What a drug addict can do for society

I’m speaking from my experience. I’ve seen it countless times. An addict, that stereotype drug addict on the street, a prostitute, a thief, someone who commits crimes, and has used every person that ever came near them.

The person that I just described has tremendous potential. Inside them lies experience, strength and will power that if ignited, if realized, would re-birth a human being that’s stronger, smarter, and more intuitive than before they were consumed by their addiction. Someone who has gained an understanding of a life that is pure suffering and how an innocent child or an adolescent can slip into the addictive process long before they are aware they are becoming a drug addict/alcoholic.

No addict “chose that lifestyle.” Addiction doesn’t happen overnight. It is a cunning process that starts within the brain and slowly becomes stronger over years or decades. As the symptoms of the addiction start to become apparent to everyone else in the addict’s life, their family and friends might start to express concern. The addict “knows” that they can’t possibly be a drug addict/alcoholic because society has told them that these are “weak” and “bad” people. Hence, every time another addictive tendency surfaces the addict constructs one more defense mechanism to deny or justify it.

Defense mechanisms are the foundation of addictive thinking. Anyone who has ever known someone in active addiction can tell you that it is amazing and scary how a drug addict thinks. This is because, slowly over time they have added these defense mechanisms to their cognitive schema, or their thought process. Little by little these defense mechanisms are added, because the addiction is taking over, but the addict knows they are not the stereotype low-life that society has said that drug addicts are. They are real people living among family and friends; holding jobs, and raising kids.

The stigma of addiction (of any type) keeps people in the dark for too long. In time the addiction progresses (it always progresses) and the power of choice is lost before the addict is aware that they are an addict (I’m referring to all types of addiction, including alcoholism).

Now let’s fast forward to recovery. Because there’s no other option, besides death. They say institutions are an option, but that’s only temporary and let’s be honest, drugs seem to make their way into institutions pretty easily. Many institutions also offer recovery programs within them as well. So those of you who think that drug addicts are going to live off the system for the rest of their lives are really inaccurate. With the potency of the drugs on the streets of Dayton and Cincinnati Ohio there are only two options: death or recovery. Housing these individuals in prison and jail without treatment options is the only way they can prolong the time that they are “living on taxpayer dollars.” Getting people into recovery sooner will get them back into society sooner.

And now we have the individual I mentioned earlier, with tremendous insight, awareness, and passion that is fueled by a gratitude for life and the little things that the average person will never have. Addicts in recovery have a perspective on daily life that is so positive and hopeful, because they know how to be happy with the things that the “average Joe” takes for granted. These are people who want to give back, help other struggling addicts and reintegrate into their families, communities and into society.

These are the individuals who can REALLY fight this opioid epidemic as well as all other forms of addiction. These are the ones who can help to education the community, the younger generations, and politicians on what helps, what works, and what does not.

It’s time that we throw away all of our old beliefs about addiction and get ready to start making progress. The old way doesn’t work. Stigmatizing addicts, medication assisted treatment and constricting them from receiving treatment, punishing them more and letting them die are all old ways of thinking that are fueling the problem. How do I know this? Because it’s getting worse. Despite the overwhelming number of deaths in Ohio, the epidemic is getting worse, so we are doing something wrong as a society. If you think this doesn’t apply to you, you’re wrong. Addiction permeates all socioeconomic classes, every cultural background and every corner of society. And whether you like it or not, your tax payer dollars are funding the penal system. So let’s get people out of the system, into treatment and give them the opportunity to live healthy productive lives as meaningful members of society.

Author: Andrea Antczak

I'm a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor III and I've been working in inpatient and outpatient settings in Cincinnati and Dayton Ohio for the last five years.

5 thoughts on “What a drug addict can do for society”

  1. I’ve read a lot of posts written about addiction, by addicts, family members of addicts and other concerned people, but I’ve never read one quite like this. It’s 3.30 am and I should be in bed, but I got hooked into your writing. Tomorrow I”ll come back and reread it because it’s really good. I’d like to take a few notes from it to stick on my kitchen wall. I don’t think there’s anything here that I didn’t already know, but you say it in an empathetic way which tips the scales a little – and today I needed to have my scales tipped. I’m writing an important letter to my addicted son, and this will help me to word it correctly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thank you so much! I’m so flattered! This is my first comment and I will never forget it:) I hope that my writing will make some difference, even if it’s a small one. I can’t thank you enough for your comment💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Andrea, if your blog becomes the trigger for one person to get clean, it will make a huge difference to more than that one person. You know the devastation an addict brings on the people around them. No matter how many readers you pick up, you’ll never be able to gauge how much others have benefited from your posts; they won’t always tell you, and sometimes they won’t even know until later, but I want you to know this; I found your blog at about 3.00am, after writing a painful letter to my son, which hadn’t posted as I wanted to edit it today. I was in a bad way. I read your top post and knew I had to read on. I read the next post and then found this one. Thanks to you I went to bed feeling calm, and I slept well.
        So it’s me who should be thanking you. I can’t tell you how grateful I am. xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m speechless. I’m so happy that my posts benefited you. Now I know it’s worth the time. And I’m so grateful that you took the time to tell me about it. Again, you’re my first commenter and I will always remember this conversation! If I never help another person, it was worth it. I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through something with your son. I’m under the impression that he’s in active addiction? I will read your letter when you post it. No matter what the situation is, Please reach out to me for support any time💕I think I figured out how to add my email to the “contact me” link…if not, I’ll take a look at that today ☺️

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, my son’s in active addiction and after taking many years of abuse from him it’s reached the point where I have to break contact. If I don’t I’ll be hungry, cold and broke this winter, as I was four years ago before he went to prison for robbing someone at knife point.
        As long as the conservatives are in power in the UK, drugs will never be decriminalised and the suffering will continue unabated.
        I hadn’t planned to post my letter on my main blog. Instead it will go on my second blog, https://motheringaddicts.wordpress.com/ which I started and then deserted when I felt too weak to keep it up. I’ve just got back to posting there.


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