Since I relish in my singular alone time at the pool, I got in anyway & I did my laps. After all:
I Needed Relief.
I Needed my daily exercise.
I needed relief from the 95-degree heat beating down on me.
I needed to try to forget the drama of the morning.
I needed to soothe my back.
Suddenly my murky solo time was broken.
2 girls came in and upon seeing the pool said :
Eww gross! I’m not putting my head in, I don’t want to get sick!
I then realized how foolish I had been.
I got out & almost immediately felt a sore throat. Yesterday & today I’m paying. Fever, earache, cold symptoms.
I get it.
~ It was my choice~.
But that doesn’t make the sickness less painful.. It doesn’t devalue my worth & ability to heal… Today I am unable to do much of what I need to or think clearly.
It actually hurts to talk so I choose not to.
Relationships/ jobs might be lacking in communication for a minute. And honestly, I’m too exhausted to explain.
That gap of realizing how foolish we were, may span longer than a few minutes, the illness might be worse for some, the conditions different.
That gap might last years. As if we are in some kind of evil spell. Others might think we’re crazy. But we are just doing our thing.. Trying to get through the day.
As a nurse, I was taught to soothe, heal & provide comfort.
Regardless of the source of the injury or pain…
In fact, as nurses, it’s not our place to diagnose… It’s actually out of our scope of practice to diagnose.
But we can treat the symptoms, calm a crying child, ease a feverish pale forehead of an elderly lady. Decrease the vomiting,
We don’t question them.. Why did you get sick? Why are you wasting my time & money? Why don’t you make better choices?
We just sooth & heal & try to NOT inflict more pain. We give comfort to help them get back to the quality of life they had before.
We can recommend someone with heart failure to avoid bacon. We can tell them all the negative effects like swelling, obesity etc. But if they choose to eat a pound of bacon then have those consequences, we don’t say “If you ever eat bacon again and need treatment for this we are going to turn you away” or post memes about:
Why is Lasix given to heart patients over & over again when Narcan has to be bought?
Or other ridiculous illness shaming memes.
(Which by the way- narcan isn't free in most places)
No, we give them lasix over and over and over, or send them to the hospital for treatment….as many times as they need it.
And we certainly don’t look them up and tell them to “get over it”. I realize bacon isn’t illegal, but neither is addiction.
I know when a child or someone we love is hurting, we frantically search for a solution and someone or something to blame. It is a self preservation moment. By trying to make sense of something, we attempt to deflect the pain and misery of it. The unfairness of it all, is somehow self- soothing in the moment. But it ends up leaving us more miserable & powerless, unless we are actually promoting change without blaming other hurt people.
My son is in very murky waters. So murky that I can’t even fathom the results. It literally takes my breathe away. I just watched a five hour video on worshipping false Gods. Is MY false God FEAR? We know where that comes from. What can smother fear? LOVE.
I have to keep loving, no matter what. I have to stop blaming & shaming him.
The actions of an addict, if left untreated, will result in illegal and possibly immoral behavior. Even then, we could do society a favor by judging less and brainstorming or helping more. We could also leave the “diagnosing & labeling” to the higher ups. 🌼like God.
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone
Only those who are faultless have the right to pass judgment upon others (implying that no one is faultless and that, therefore, no one has such a right to pass judgment).
To those wonderful commenters on addiction/or an overdose post who say no one forced people with SUD to stick a pill down their throat or use a needle, I say to you: Thank God.
Thank God, it wasn’t YOUR CHILD. Thank heavens you don’t know what it’s like to feel helpless when you find out your successful son; the hero of so many, the big hearted business owner who took his family on vacations and bought his workers new tires to get to work; is now homeless without a car or a suitcase to his name.
Thank heavens you never had to buy your son Ciggerettes because you were so relieved he wasn’t using heroin.
Oh, but about that forcing thing? Did you ever buy a lemon car? Did the salesman ever promise you that it ran great, would last you years and years, and damn, you would look great in it, very stylish and on top of the world. Then when you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere, listening to John Phillips Topanga Canyon:
Oh Mary, I’m in deep waters And it’s way over my head Everyone thought I was smarter Then to be misled.
And you’re cussing the salesman AND yourself first being so naive?
Well here’s proof that they (‘someone’ in pain or otherwise distressed) were swayed with misinformation (from physicians, brochures in Dr’s offices and a huge marketing campaign) that MAY have led to their drastic downslide into addiction and some into death 😢
1. A well-intentioned effort among some physician groups to better manage chronic pain2. False marketing claims about addiction to new, longer-acting opioids 3. Lack of physician education on the use of drugs with high abuse potentials 4. Direct-to-physician marketing 5. Provider-run pill mills 6. Culture of drug use and abuse 7. Multitude of cheap, widely available drugs of abuse including black tar heroin 8. Over-prescription of narcotics 9. Expansion of Mexican drug cartels 10. Corporate greed
This is a great video ( if you can call the whole thing great) explaining it. This is what chapter 4 in my book coming out this year is about.
Whoever and whatever may have contributed to this crises, the remnants of it’s hurricane force winds go on. Not only are the grieving families still suffering the kids if their family member; but others, who have the nightmare of a child still involved, is excruciating.
It’s easy to tell someone to “let go” or ‘live your life” because you can’t control another person’s actions; but that doesn’t make it easy.
Despite, the solution, or the correct course of action, when people are suffering it’s NOT the time to tell them it’s their fault. If its the person suffering with substance use disorder, shaming them into recovery has never worked.
If it’s the the suffering parents, saying such things as:
“You should have got them help….” Is just cruel.
I will never understand the social media comments that are so insensitive towards such a massive problem in our society, no matter what or who is the cause. It doesn’t matter how it started really…… Just how we can give suffering people hope….
The people who seem to be on their ‘high horse’ looking down on others or because of their choices or conditions in life. Or maybe it’s actually us,who find ourselves saying about others, ” If only- THEY wouldn’t have done THAT– I wouldn’t have to do this, then my life would be exponentially better”.
Possibly, that’s a true statement. But what if our own attitudes and actions have a greater impact than we think regarding OTHERS’ choices? I am specifically talking about our own stress response to situations- especially at the beginning -of the addict’s journey.
Admitting our own frailties is difficult especially when someones else’s are blatantly front and center, blasting us in the face.
Today I was thinking about this ᴄᴀᴜsᴇ ᴀɴᴅ ᴇғғᴇᴄᴛ. There are many scientific articles rebuking cause and effect mostly in the subject of matter & objects- not humans. Well except for this human example.
I decided to go down the rabbit hole and explore ᴄᴀᴜsᴇ ᴀɴᴅ ᴇғғᴇᴄᴛ in addiction-
(Surprise Surprise! Says Gomer) since this IS an addiction blog..
I see so many frustrated and bitter posts on mom’s addict support groups about how awful the person with a substance abuse disorder is. They are mean, crass, irresponsible and everything else that you would expect from someone whose frontal lobe is in dysfunction mode in order the let the midbrain do it’s hijacked thing: fight or flight; sick or not sick etc.
We Must, at some point realize that our one finger pointing out, still has 3 pointing back at us.
For example, looking at a homeless person brings out all of our, ” I’m so glad that’s not me or one of my kids-I mean we all work and do responsible stuff right?”
Or the allure of trauma news stories or murder shows makes us think of how fortunate we are that we don’t have those people in our family. I’m not a therapist but it may even be trying to justify, downplay our own problems or even deflect from them.
I know that quote seems harsh.
We all have our faults, some of which we are distinctly aware of. Things such as being disorganized or always being late. Usually, we are oblivious to how much those faults affect others. Luckily we manage to get by without too much devastation and learn to function around our “faults”.
With addiction, the person suffering may initially suffer in silence. They may not even know yet that they are falling into the whirlwind of needing the drugs to avoid being sick. As their dependency escalates they become even more unaware of how their actions are starting to affect others because they are so hyperfocused on their goal..
With the devastation that addiction causes in the short term and eventually long term; the ripple effect to everyone involved, is devastating. By then it’s sometimes difficult to look back and think what we may have done to “cause”( I say this with extreme caution- hear me out) the ‘addict’ to turn to that particular damaging coping skill.
Before you tell me all the things your loved one has done while in addiction, I will save you from having to relive it.
We have all been there, we who have had our lives interrupted and turned upside down. We all know that we didn’t ask for it. Even- those momma’s & dad’s with a history of addiction.
Their recovery is valid and by no means deserving or even destined to have a child with a substance use disorder.
Let me ademently state that personal responsibility is always number one.
Personal responsibility or Individual Responsibility is the idea that human beings choose, instigate, or otherwise cause their own actions. A corollary idea is that because we cause our actions, we can be held morally accountable or legally liable.
If we go back to basic cause and effect diagrams, every cause has an effect of course.
What I want to focus on though is TᕼE ᑕᗩᑌSE.
We all know the effects, but Why does the cause happen?
If you look at this Article with a study from 2014 from Samhsa it shows how closely related mental health is to addiction. Dependent on what age someone is faced with certain traumas, their resources for coping skills may determine increased drug use.
As I read through this Article explaining Dopamine, I can’t help but imagine that when faced with these life stressors; certain people – especially those with a genetic deposition to addiction- NO MATTER WHAT AGE, will choose to feel good over feeling the angst of stress.
Of course, it seems like a no-brainer. We ALL would choose feeling good over feeling yucky. As I’ve made this journey into my son’s addiction the last year, my days are spent on a roller coaster of emotions. I can be fine one minute and the next start thinking about my firstborn son who’s deeply lost and isolated from our family. I will burst into tears while driving down the freeway. At such devastating times, I have to evaluate what it is that I need- right now- to feel better.
So many times the thought comes: “If I was a drinker- it would NEED a drink right now”. So why is it different from a drug? I know, because alcohol is legal. I get that. I’m just saying that once someone is addicted to the dopamine response of ANY DRUG, they are going to run to that when any sign of stress comes their way.
Life and relationships are hard enough to maneuver, but people with poor coping skills and/or people prone to addiction use those skills to feel better.
So, ANY KIND of stress, including difficult bosses, insecure or spouses with their own deeply rooted issues, troubled children, the addict resorts to escaping to their (new?) coping skill. First silently, because it seems harmless and a welcome relief to the stress of the day. Like a glass of wine to a non-. Alcoholic.
Ultimately, as we all know, this eventually creates mounds more problems than they originally ever had and as a result, they become the fall guy for all things gone wrong after that point.
After their secret is made known and the house of cards starts to fall, anything and everything (EFFECT) that happens as a result of the addiction is now deemed the addicts fault
They even start believing what the drugs tell them and, by now, what everyone else is telling them and showing them. The stigma of being worthless and useless imbeciles of society is further “proved” by involvement in crime and/or the justice system.
The addicts’ behaviors are now so wrong that any previous behaviors of others is forgotten. Everyone -including the addict -becomes stuck in this spin-cycle of destruction which is very difficult to hop off of.
The addict is bound to his own shame and blame game. Yes, it was HIS initial CHOICE to start due to his coping mechanisms, so the cause and effect seem pretty clear cut.
I’m not in any way trying to take the blame off of the addicts’ initial choices. I also am NOT advocating any more guilt on the addicted loved ones’ families. God No! We have enough. I’m simply saying that there probably were a lot of problems before the addiction because there just IS, in life. But NOW because of the EFFECTS of The Addict, every other personality problem or characteristic of anyone involved in the addict’s journey suddenly disappeared.
So, because HIS choice was made along with every one of our choices and CAUSES we made. Ours just may not have bankrupt us, or make us chained to our disease like them.
And yes, we do still suffer immensely because of their choices (& effects of those).
I believe that true compassion is remembering the person as a human being who got caught up in the devastating whirlwind of addiction. Like driving through a windstorm, thinking you’ll get through it with a couple of scratches but a hurricane is waiting within to give you the ride of your life.
I believe that it’s us, with healthy brains, who can show the addict how to handle the stress of a Windstorm again.
Of course, they have to be somewhat willing, but we can still model UN-toxic behavior & healthy empathy.
Being treated like they are humans who made some mistakes will give them hope that they CAN SUCCEED at recovery and that they are NOT a lost cause.
I believe that WE can be their HOPE in a world that only shows them more turmoil and darkness.
This quote is so interesting to me, because we (society in general) “seem to” look down on addicts or homeless people in some fashion. I’m not saying there’s ingrained ‘bias’ at all. I’m just going on what I’ve felt myself & seen in my culture and community before addiction hit my family head on .
I realize that not all homeless people are addicts, and of course not all addicts are homeless; but we still have these fleeting first impression thoughts of self-righteousness and judgement when you see that guy -or gal- on the street.
“Why didn’t they just quit –when they first realized they had a problem-or how sad-it’s too as they didn’t get some help“. Or the biggest one “Why doesn’t he just get a job in this thriving economy?”
There isn’t one answer to all those questions, but that doesn’t stop us from seeing them as some sort of weaker species.
As we drive past quickly; thankful to not be under pressure to look at them and face the stark reality of our society- along with the relief of the burden of NOT having to decide to give them something-. (“Because we all. know what they’ll spend it on) or ( “the news stories have proven some are scammers”).
So we gladly drive by, with an exhale & pull out our phone to see what we’ve missed.
What will make us laugh or who liked our last post.
Or we reach for the chocolate covered pretzels to let that delicious fructose melt on our tongue signaling those endorphins to release the dopamines so that the serotonin in our brains will make us happy.
Hmmm. Same process, different ‘drug’.
I mean it’s normal, we are human. We NEED these endorphins to even get out of bed in the morning.
Everyone needs to self regulate their emotions and find their happy place.
The problem is when we fail to see that what we are doing is the same thing ‘they’ did, no matter their reason for starting. ( Drugs or alcohol)
Whether it was surgery or one drink on the weekend to relax, some of us don’t have, or lose that ability to self regulate the amount and be able to stop.
Is that a character defect?
Who knows? Gabor Mate might. Many other experts might. But bottom line, we are all human. We all need comfort, to feel warm & loved & that we belong.
The fact that 21 million Americans have an addiction, with only 10% being treated; tells me that we still have a huge way to go in reducing shame and sigma of addiction.
One way to do this is reduce the judgement that they are somehow any different than us, in the way of willpower or strength.
We have zero idea of what choices they had to choose between, whether escaping from abuse one day or a traumatic event or just normal life’s stress that we all have. Maybe next time you see someone who’s obviously struggling or “looks like they’ve had a rough life” maybe we could offer a McDonald’s gift card, or hand them a heart shaped chocolate candy, or if they seem safe, ask them if they need you to go buy them anything just for today to help them get by. 💞🙋♂️💞
How good would that feel to boost our endorphins for even more than a brief moment, probably for the rest of the day?