It’s funny, and sad, when I think about people who don’t understand the underlying involuntary nature of addiction. They think that addicts have full control over all of their actions and decisions. Believe me, no one would choose to engage in behavior that results in breaking loved ones hearts, stealing from them, getting violently ill from being without the drug of choice, going to prison… and the list goes on. It is the worst feeling in the world, but we just can’t stop once we get started.
Unfortunately, the government is also misunderstanding the needs of addicts. When Ronald Reagan made the decision to close long term mental health facilities, allegedly based on the abuse of clients, he also had a deleterious effect on addiction treatment. Since addiction is a mental health disease, it meant that any facility that billed the government for services (i.e., Medicaid), they were limited to 16 treatment beds. The result being, we have a shortage of inpatient beds for indigent addicts.
This shortage results in waiting lists to get help. What do addicts do if the have to wait? They usually continue to treat their disorder by using more of the substance that prevents them from getting sick, their drug of choice. We need to contact our legislators and demand they pass state laws getting around this federal restriction. The Reagan philosophy of “Just Say No” doesn’t work. This is a mental health disorder that has risen to a medical emergency with the current opioid/heroin epidemic.
No, we addicts don’t jump for joy at going into treatment, but if you want people you care about, get the opportunity to recover, do your part today!