We still don’t think addiction is a disease

The following is an excerpt from a recent article from Madison Magazine of madison, Wisconsin, about the “perfect storm” heroin crisis in a small neighboring town, Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin. I couldn’t have written it better myself, so I will let the author, Maggie Ginsberg-Schutz tell it like it is:

“It’s a perfect storm, all right, and it brews on many different fronts—arguably the most turbulent of which is that so many of us still don’t get addiction. We just don’t see or understand or believe that addiction is a disease, a chronic and progressive brain disease, fatal if left untreated, compounded by stigma and shame, and even further complicated by its tangled relationship with mental health and the fragmented systems serving both. We think addicts should just try harder, be smarter, grow stronger, care more, so they can, simply, stop. But at some point for every addict—whether after years of abuse or that very first sip, toke, bump or hit—the choice to use stops being a choice. Brains are rewired, consequences stack up like prison bricks and free will evaporates. Using becomes a compulsion, then an obsession, no longer about morals or intelligence or willpower, if it ever even was. Take this baffling disease and combine it with crime and consequences and collective misunderstanding and pain and pride and plentiful but isolated resources and you’ve got that whopper of a storm, one that leaves so many people suffering, not actually believing that it can get better. That recovery is even possible. That life could be good again, infused with hope and peace, health and fulfillment, productivity and purpose. Because it can, it does, without a doubt, if you can find that help. It’s just hard to see the rescue crew through the blinding rain after that front rages through and you’re left, in shock, sifting through the wreckage.”

Educate yourself. Educate your friends and family. Educate anyone who will listen, so we don’t lose any more lives to this senseless disease.

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