being judgmental is just so easy. it’s that air of superiority, the dismissal of someone else as though they are a lesser being, a refusal to understand that all of us have warts or sins or failings or simple lapses of clear thinking.
i know when the news of philip seymour hoffman’s death first came out, i thought it was tragic. then the news followed that he had died of a drug overdose and i changed my mind. you know what i was thinking: that his death was no longer tragic, but stupid or self-indulgent or… and then i took a pause.
he was an addict, but his death was still tragic.
no child grows up thinking, “i’m going to be an addict when i grow up.” maybe it’s a momentary choice – that first choice to try something addictive – but not long after that (as c says) you’re just a passenger on that train.
abusing a substance rewires your brain. putting the wiring back again isn’t as easy as just saying you want to, or even going through the steps to fix it. your brain works against you. your body works against you. not just in terms of withdrawal, in the scheme of things that’s the easy part, but in terms of your brain’s new normal. that’s not even mentioning the rest of your life habits, friends, family, etc. that are part of the addiction cycle.
i’m not an addict now, but i was addicted to cigarettes for about 10 years and i would say that for about 8 of those years i really didn’t want to be a smoker. yet, i still smoked. and almost every day i woke up and said “i’m not going to smoke today” and then a few hours later i was smoking again. i contemplated an actual strategy for quitting months before i actually quit “cold turkey”. that final time it stuck and i never picked up a cigarette again, and in spite of being really bothered by cigarette smoke, i can say that there are still times that i think about having a cigarette. it’s 33 years later, but my brain still maintains a memory of the pleasurable aspects of smoking.
i can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to give up the pleasurable feeling someone gets from narcotics or alcohol.
over the years as our children have grown, i’ve been so saddened to hear about the number of kids ours grew up with who have had addiction problems, some whose problems persist and some who are now dead from an overdose. we know of entire families who were wiped out financially by their own kids either from thievery or the cost of repeated stints in rehab. i can only imagine the pain. my thoughts and prayers go out to them, but the words are unsaid. it’s very difficult to know whether the parent of an addict will accept your concern with gratitude or feel insulted.
i remember those kids when they were just little, their innocence, their joy, their spunk. i don’t know them enough to figure out why their journey into drugs began, but i know that they would never have followed that path if they had known the outcome.
so, yeah, most of us don’t dabble in addictive substances that take hold of our lives and turn us into something we never wanted to be. but we all have our vices, our failings and our humanity so rather than judge maybe we can put our resources together to solve.