From: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Addiction in America
the United States today there are a growing number of people
struggling with addiction. It is more difficult than ever to remain
connected to ourselves, our families, and our society at large. With
the rise of the internet there has been a great deal of online
shaming and cyberbullying. When I was a child in the 1980’s, if you
didn’t like someone or if they were unkind to you, you simply didn’t
associate with them. You could play with different kids at recess,
chose not to go over to their house to play or simply play in your
own back yard. Now, if someone is unkind to you they can post a
message such that it not only affects you, it goes out for the entire
world to see. Our ways of coping have not kept pace with the
technology itself. There are new kinds of depression and addiction
that did not exist thirty years ago.
mother just retired from working in a homeless shelter in Wichita,
Kansas. She has told me many stories over the years of the terrible
toll that addition takes on the people she has seen. Many of them
have lost loved ones due to their inability to cope. A volunteer at
her shelter once found her son dead in his room. He had died of
alcohol poisoning. She later found out he was a sex addict who was
too scared and embarrassed to get help. He went from being a
non-drinker to a casualty of his own addictions in less than a year.
Alcoholism is such a terrible foe that leaves a strong grip on all
to my surprise, many of the people that ended up at my mother’s
homeless shelter were once people of influence, captains of industry,
or CEO’s of multinational corporations. The patterns are similar.
They had high stress jobs, started self-medicating with alcohol or
prescribed medications, thought they could control it, struggled to
maintain their marriages, and relationships with their children and
ended up losing it all and somehow found themselves in a United
Methodist Homeless Shelter in the Midwest far from where they once
cost to society is almost immeasurable. Unemployment, increased cost
of health care, job turnover, delinquent rent payment and evictions
are all things that taxpayers and businesses end up paying for in the
end. I think it’s time that we start to demystify and destigmatize
the nature of addiction. It is something that can happen to anyone.
And if we all can admit this than we can create a safe place to talk
about it and to manage it. It’s always okay to feel how you feel,
what you do with those feelings is what’s important. If we can have
open and honest dialogue such that people feel they can claim these
things than they don’t have to be afraid of them and can begin to
heal from them.
it starts with you and me and it starts with honesty. We need to make
counseling and treatment more affordable and more widely available.
Some companies have already started this with EAP or Employee
Assistance Programs that offer telephonic counseling at no charge.
It’s a step in the right direction but we need to be better as a
society of neighbors, friends, and relatives at recognizing the
symptoms of addictions in those we love and being able to have the
resources available to get them the help they need before it is too
late. No one should ever have to loose a loved one because they could
not afford treatment and no one should ever have to be ashamed of
their addiction such that they choose not to seek the help that they