This isn’t going to be as well thought out as I would like… but I’m about to burst.
I got into one of those random conversations with random people today. They were middle aged men… nice enough, asking me about what I do for a living. I said I’m in the counseling field and we somehow got on the topic of addictions. One of them said that it’s addicts that make it harder for him to get his pain medication and that we should just “let them die.”
And listed a few other reasons like the allocation of resources and that some people just don’t want to get better, etc, etc.
I know that this rhetoric exists. I know people think it, but to hear someone say it, point blank, for the first time jarred me after having worked in an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab center for years. And he said it flippantly, then covered his mouth as if to say (hee hee, I shouldn’t be saying this, but doesn’t everyone think it?).
No. No, not everyone thinks it. I pray that people open their minds and their hearts. What if obese people weren’t given CPR for heart attacks because they somehow brought it on themselves? Who gets to decide whose life is “worth” the resources? I personally know addicts in recovery… and I just can’t imagine them not getting the help they needed. Do people have to want to change? Yes. But why is someone who doesn’t manage their diabetes any “better” than an addict who relapses? Just because overdosing is less pretty? I think it’s super easy to make blanket statements about groups of people when you don’t have any way to relate. Or maybe when you don’t know anyone personally who has suffered.
Anyway, in the moment, I knew if I said what I wanted to say the conversation would be over and that person’s mind would be closed. So instead, I said “I understand why you might feel that way, but at the same time some people DO recover even after multiple attempts at recovery… just like other ailments that take time and management.”
It wasn’t as nearly as direct or biting as I had wished, but that was all I had. I’m still reeling and it’s a substantial amount of time later… where is the compassion? Addiction, yes, leads people to do awful things at times and act not in accordance with their values… but to just write them off is one of the most cruel things I have ever heard. To hear it stated so plainly will stay with me for a while. Gonna try to sleep now… I might write more on this later.
~*~ Natalie ~*~