Below is a dedication to both people suffering with addiction, and people who have loved ones suffering with addiction. It is also a reframe of addiction. Rather than viewing people with addiction as “addicts,” we need to work at separating the person from the addiction. Addiction is a disease and an unwanted challenge in a person’s life. We do not define someone by their cancer, their diabetes, or their mental health struggles. We do not refer to someone with cancer as their-cancer. Yet, we choose to do that with addiction. We define someone with addiction as an “addict.” Which feeds the narrative that someone with addiction will forever have their identity rooted in a disease.
In reality, someone with addiction is a whole, complex person. They are a person who is challenged by the disease of addiction, but they are not addiction. In the future, if you care for someone battling against the disease of addiction, try to reframe your perception to look at the addiction as something that is not at all your loved one. The addiction is the monster that your loved one faces, and that you may choose to face with them. The addiction is outside of your loved one. The addiction is a large-scale mental health problem that society needs to address as a whole. But the addiction never was and never will be the identity of a person.
I know you think this is me.
You see when I get sick,
The hospital visits, the bills, the unfortunate prognosis,
The bloodshot eyes and the bloated skin.
You see the legal repercussions,
When I’m behind DUI’s,
When I’m under the thumb of lawyers, judges, guards.
You see that it is so much easier to simplify me-
As bad choices,
As tragic, unmotivated, not willing.
But the addiction is not me, or even a part of me, the addiction is the enemy of me.
How could it be me?
It tries to kill me.
It tries to shut down my body,
Part by part it peels the rest of my health away.
It has tried to take all the things that give me life.
It sees you trying to save me and it attacks you… but it is only because it wants to keep me.
The addiction is not me, it is what tries to kill me.
It is a parasite, a disease,
Everything that gives it existence is outside of actual me.
This is not my identity.
This is not me as a wife, a husband, a mother, a father,
This is not me as the leader, the athlete, the artist,
This is not me as the person you love.
I need you to believe; I need you to see:
This is not about you versus me,
Right versus wrong,
Or justice versus the addict.
This is about humanity versus a disease.
Because this disease will never be me.