Name: Zenobia McKnight
The hole in our chest.
Every person has coping mechanisms. Whether that be drugs, alcohol, self-harm, shopaholic, gambling, sex, workaholic, codependent, exercising excessively, controlling their food intake, etc. Some of the mechanisms I have listed are seen as an acceptable and the “correct” way to cope, as society sees it. Other coping mechanisms are looked down upon and deemed as a “self-control” problem. No one second guesses when a coworker is wearing a different pair of shoes every day or using the company time to online shop, but it is frowned upon to see another coworker hiding an alcoholic beverage at their desk. Society has blamed and labeled many alcoholics and drug addicts as monsters, evil, petty thief’s, bums, lazy, whores, and un-fixable. Many people use drugs, alcohol, and many other addictions to escape from the outside world. There is pressure in our nation to be successful, to make a lot of money, and to be “grinding” at work, whether that be one job or two, maybe three jobs just to make sure we can pay for groceries. That pressure on an addict who is already struggling can send them even farther into the oblivion of addiction. As we know, most addicts are perfections and if they do not live up to the unobtainable standard that society has set, what is the point of even trying at all? For the individual, addiction can cause many health and neurological negative effects. Fertility issues, organ damage, depression, psychosis, and aggression. Being active in our addictions changes our brains natural wiring. These problems for the individual affect our society as a whole. Society then loses its work force, babies are born addicted to drugs, the homeless population is booming, ICU beds are filled with people who have overdosed and may be in a comma.
I have struggled with alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness, eating disorders, and self-harm from the age of 12. Was I also an evil, lazy monster at the young and rip age of 12? Society as a whole needs to take away the stigma of addicts, no matter their age, career, or living situation. Your boss might be a cocaine addict, your mother might be drinking heavily again, the person you see walking down the street in a nice suit might have an eviction notice on his apartment door because of his shopping habit, he can no longer pay rent. I have found a way of healing from all of my addictions through the support and the ever-love of other beings who I have found along my journey, including a higher power of my choice.
Addiction does not discriminate. Addiction does not see race, gender, sexuality, college degrees, or your bank account. Addiction is not a problem associated with knowledge, money, or power. It is a disease that can only be treated by a spiritual experience and an acceptance of our problem. Having the willingness to change your entire life, no matter how daunting it might be. A dark hole in the heart of addicts that needs to be filled with a higher power of their choosing, or they will continue using until the oblivion takes them all together. Until a “normal” person has known an addict directly, they will not understand the power and devastation of addiction in its many forms. Many turn a blind eye to addicts on the streets, but when it is your own family or close friend struggling, we will do anything to help. Humanity as a whole is one big family. We need to care for each other like brothers and sisters. Open our eyes to what life could be and start supporting other people to being the most authentic, sober version of themselves. Because when we are in the midst of our addictions, we are not our true selves. We are a shell of ourselves. Compassion is key here. Seeing addicts on the street and understanding that that is someone’s son, daughter, sibling, parent, or best friend. Turning a blind eye or alienating these people will not solve the problem. Compassion will.