I am angry about all the hurt, pain and denial out there.
Addiction strikes about one in 10 people, so the next time you are in a classroom, in a meeting or on a bus, take a gander around and estimate how many near you might be secretly addicted or impaired.
Then consider their impact on others, how widespread their disease is and how far it reaches beyond you. Mothers, fathers, children, nephews, cousins, employers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, foster parents, government (in terms of costs), doctors, nurses, lawyers, co-workers, police officers, paramedics, funeral directors, morticians, journalists, friends and even strangers are all impacted by this deadly disease.
We live in such utter denial about addiction’s harmful reach and it impacts us all — people who vape, smoke, gamble, overeat, under-eat, drink, do drugs, have excessive sex, watch too much porn, masturbate too often, overspend, hoard, continually seek love, play endless video games, overwork, overexercise and compulsively wash.
I am curious about those who raged on the KTW Facebook page, then suddenly stopped. I fear they have retreated or, worse, are living in denial about the impact of all this. They stopped commenting, perhaps thinking their silence conveys they are OK. I am thinking their anger does not convey they are OK.
I am not here to incite rage, but to help.
What worries me most is when people refuse to comment and remain in their pain (by simmering in silence) because it shows they truly are hurt.
The disease of addiction loves to silence all. It loves to go underground and into the dark as this is where addiction flourishes most. People rage against the alcoholic/addict and say we must stop. They point their fingers at us while three fingers point right back at them.
Dr. Phil McGraw said it best: “There’s something about that person that I don’t like about me.”
I isolate because people reflect me back to me. I can’t be me because of people like you, who unconsciously rage against people like me. Pain begets more pain and increases mine — and when in my pain, I reach for more wine (whine/anger/drugs).
(Life is too deadly to be taken seriously all of the time.)
People wonder why it is so hard for addicts to seek help.
All I can say is look in the mirror to see why that might be. I see me wherever I go. I isolate at times because it is hard to see me reflected in you. Some people are unconsciously hurt and refuse to admit this. They have denial, just like within us. They might unconsciously scream that you are not like the addict. Unfortunately, their unacknowledged pain and anger comes out sideways when dealing with us.
They rage against addicts like me who do exactly the same thing when we rage against them. Like the addict, blame us for their pain. Like the addict, they refuse to seek help.
I am grateful to have a program to lean on and a higher power that guides me each day. I am not religious, but spiritual in nature. It bears repeating that addicts are frustrated mystics who constantly seek greater purpose in life.
When we discover alcohol or drugs, we think we have finally filled the holes in our souls. We mistakenly believe we have found our answer, the meaning of life through intoxicated states, but when we realize we haven’t, we grow frustrated and rage.
Twelve-step programs bring us a life-lasting peace. They provide us purpose and meaning in life so we no longer need to suffer.
Ask an Addict is a column penned by a Kamloops scholar with expertise in addiction issues and someone who is also an addict.
The column is meant to inform and help, which is particularly important as we remain mired in an opioid crisis that continues to claim thousands of lives each year.
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