For the longest time, I didn’t understand addiction. Everytime I heard that someone died of an overdose I would ask myself questions. Questions like – why couldn’t they stop? shouldn’t they know their limit; weren’t they thinking of their loved ones? In my head, I could only process the fact that the action was a choice they made and it was their responsibility to understand the consequences and know when to stop.

With the news of DMX’s recently, a lot of those questions came up again – How did someone so loved by so many people and who has attained that level of success not win the battle against addiction? How could a substance take his life away?

This weekend, I was watching season 3 of one of my favorite TV shows “A million Little Things” and one of the story lines was about the struggle with addiction. In the show, Eddie was a struggling alcoholic who made a decision to be sober after the birth of his son and managed to stay sober for 10 years … until he had an accident which put him in a wheelchair. Even though Eddie knew that his previous addiction had led to choices that hurt his wife and that if he relapsed, his marriage was over, he started using drugs and went on a downward spiral that almost took his life.

My heart would always break when I hear of people struggling with addiction and I would wish I could shake them and knock sense into their heads about the very slippery slope they are on …. but it is not that simple!

Here a few things I have learnt (which you may or may not know) which I hope can help you if you know someone struggling or if you are struggling and need some courage:

  • Addiction is a Disease: I know it is easy to look at addiction as a character flaw or lack of willpower but it is a disease; like any other disease you can think of. It may have started out as a choice which they thought they could control, but at the point that it becomes an addiction, the individual is suffering from a disease. Being addicted is not really a life anyone will choose. According to an article by Michigan health, addiction is a chronic illness accompanied by significant changes in the brain.
  • Helping someone struggling with an addiction is not easy: There is a societal expectation that family and friends of individuals struggling with addiction should be able to fix the problem; however, there is no fast and easy way to help a person with an addiction. This link shares some tips that can help if you have questions on how to help an addicted friend or relative.
  • It is important to get help: If you are struggling with addiction, it is easy to think you can fix it on your own, that you’ve got this and you don’t need any help. It however takes more than willpower to overcome addiction. It is important to ask for help or take help when it is offered. Like any disease we struggle with, we need professionals/experts to help us. Asking for help is not always the easiest thing to do, as it means we need to acknowledge our inadequacy, but it is important to think about the bigger picture which is to be here and to be whole. This link shares some tips that can help you as find courage to get the help you need.

The last thing I wanted to share is the ’12 Step Program’. I first heard about the 12 steps in an episode of the Red Table Talk where Bobby Brown shared his recovery journey. The ’12 steps’ was first published in the 1939 book Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism and a lot of people have shared that this program has played a part in their recovery journey. You can find details of the steps here

If you are struggling with addiction, I pray you find the courage to win this battle ; for anyone with a friend or relative struggling from addiction, I wish you continued strength and wisdom to help them through this ; and if you have lost anyone from an addiction, I hope you forgive yourself knowing it wasn’t your fault and that you forgive them knowing they couldn’t help themselves.

Wishing you a great week.