There is No Right or Wrong Way To Understand Human Life

What does this mean?

I became interested in this statement after a recent obituary of a younger person which they stated “she did not do anything to cause her death”.

This hit me hard, of course, since I have a child engaging in risky behaviors daily that could potentially cause his death.

What IS a human life worth? Is it dependant on the choices he makes? A very famous case in the last year has drawn these lines so deeply that hundreds of (innocent) people have died as a result of these lines.

Sometimes, in my dark confusing days of navigating my son’s journey with addiction; I fight the worthiness battle. Is my son worthy of a healthy productive life again? Of course he is.

So why do I feel the need to prove this? I post memes like this continually:


I guess I’m trying to get someone to care as much as I do – which is ridiculous. Everyone has their own battles. That is a fact. but when drug addiction enters your world it turns every other thing into irrelevancy. You apply everything through the lens of addiction. I had a co-worker who lost her son in Afghanistan. I actually felt a twinge of envy! Envy that if my son died it wouldn’t be “serving his country”. Would I get compassion? Or looked at as the mother of an addict so the mourning somehow isn’t as valid?

What is a life worth? No matter the race, or their occupation or their manner of death. Pain is pain.

When I questioned this on a recent post on Medium, the author responded with this:

“All people can be heroes. But some deaths have a bigger impact on the world than others. Sure, you could choose to see your son as a martyr. No one would stop you. There is no right or wrong way to understand human life. It just so happens that xxxx death was public for all the world to see, and something about it resonated with people. You do not have to see him as a martyr, but others do. Again, there is no right or wrong way to understand a human life. Choose for yourself.

Joshua Gane

My road to my own recovery through my son’s addiction includes this insecurity of shame and blame (& projection). But ultimately, I have to direct my own thoughts. If I want to focus on seeing my son through other’s eyes, I will be halted in my recovery. What matters is my own well-being and peace and my treatment of my son as a human being with the horrible illness of addiction ruling his life right now. How others treat him or see him is NOT my concern. Even in my own family. Others are allowed to feel however they want.

Sure, I want to break the stigma of addiction. I want to show that no one is immune, that it can happen to anyone. I want people to let others recover in different ways without the bullying of strict words such as clean and sober. I want to quit the argument of whether addiction is a choice or a disease. I want to use that energy on increasing treatment pathways not inflicting more punishment and pain by incarceration.

I don’t want people to have to hide in obituaries the cause of death of their loved ones or make sure people know they didn’t cause it. If a diabetic person died from too much insulin or too much sugar, would the family state: she died through no fault of her own- from diabetes? Or would they just say “From diabetes”?

Another coworker, who just lost her beloved brother, put this in his obituary:

“Please seek to understand the disease of addiction. It is not a choice or a weakness, and at some point, you or your loved one may be touched by it. Please have empathy and support for those struggling and treat them with compassion and respect.”

There’s also this obituary which I’ve saved for awhile:

“Brandie never wanted to be defined only by her addiction and mistakes, she was so much more than that. She made it clear if she was to ever pass as a result of it, she wanted people to know the truth with the hope that honesty about her death could help break the stigma about addicts and get people talking about the problem of addiction that is taking away so many young lives. 

Addiction doesn’t discriminate, it will take hold and destroy anyone in its path, including the families and people who love them. Addiction hides in the faces of everyday people all around us. Brandie isn’t just another statistic or just ‘another one gone too soon,’ she was a great heart with a bright future and a gift that the world lost and can never be replaced. So the best way to honor Brandie, is for people who read this or knew her to think twice before you judge an addict.OR USE!

My sincere condolences to those who have lost a loved one to this insidious disease. As I continue on my search for peace, I hope we can all find more compassion- less judgment for those who suffer from addiction. Also, may we render more kindness to family members who are thrust into a maze of confusion where there is no blueprint to a singular way out.

Pain- Unexpressed

Photo by author

Unresolved pain or trauma isn’t an “excuse” for addiction. It’s an attempt to understand the WHY’s.

Why did they start?

Why can’t they just quit?

What can I do to support them without enabling?

There is no one size fits all answers but I’m convinced that if we can have some compassion with that they are getting out of the addiction; we can better help them recover. (Because if negative consequences cured addiction, there would be no addicts).

This very short video by CMC Foundation for Change, explains how families can help by just acknowledging, not treating or diagnosing the pain.

From Lorelie Rozzano’s Facebook Post:

“Is Pain Feeding Your Addiction?

Gabor Maté asks, “Not why the addiction, but why the pain?”
Let’s face it, we all experience emotional pain. Life doesn’t always go as planned. But for the most part, we dust ourselves off, pick ourselves up, and carry on. In the process, we learn that pain is our teacher. It tells us when changes are needed. From pain emerges growth, and from growth, wisdom.

Pain can be a beautiful thing.

But not everyone will learn from it. Addicted individuals don’t cope well with pain due to disordered brain chemistry. Instead of feeling their pain, they react to it. People who abuse substances don’t acknowledge pain through healthy communication. Instead, they act out through unhealthy behavioral styles such as avoidance or silent treatment, or on the opposite spectrum, yelling, swearing, slamming doors, punching holes in walls, and throwing things. They may become verbally abusive, and some even physically abusive.

If you hang out with someone struggling with addiction long enough, you will observe that their problems and feelings seem more prominent than the rest of us. You’ve experienced uncomfortable emotions, too, but you don’t react the way your addicted loved one does.

So why do people struggling with addiction have such a difficult time with emotional pain?

One theory is that addiction is genetic. Although it can skip a generation, it runs in families the same way blue eyes do. This is why it’s called an ‘environmental’ (meaning home) illness. When you grow up in an addicted home, you learn to walk on eggshells and stuff your feelings (expressing feelings in addicted families can create division and hostility). Keeping the peace means avoiding confrontation, resulting in emotional immaturity. Although your physical body ages, you feel like a child on the inside and may struggle with feelings of inferiority. When you lack self-worth, you don’t ask for what you want or need. Instead, you suffer in silence or resentment. To compensate, you look to people/places and things to bridge the gap. The first time you get high or rescue someone who does, you fall in love with the feeling. No more pain. No more anxiety. No more inferiority. Getting high and enabling are Band-Aids for emotional distress. Although they numb the sting temporarily, they create deeper wounds. So the cycle begins. Pain, numb, pain, numb… soon, your disordered brain is looking for things to feel pain over, to reward its pleasure circuit. It tricks you by telling you there’s hurt where there is none.

When you’re predisposed to addiction, avoiding emotions can cost you your life, as addiction distorts emotional pain into a lethal brew of self-pity, blame, and resentment. This triplicate is a deadly combo, allowing the addicted person to feel justified in using.

When I went to treatment, I learned addiction used my pain against me. It fed on my emotional pain, twisted it, corrupted it, exaggerated it, and made me gravely ill.

Long before entering treatment, I needed help but couldn’t ask for it. I thought people who admitted their problems were weak. But I was wrong. People who find the courage to acknowledge and overcome challenges are warriors! It turns out real courage isn’t the lack of fear, but facing your fear and doing it anyway.

When you struggle with addiction, your mind will tell you it’s too hard to get clean and sober. Here’s the hard part, and it’s a BIG one. You can’t trust what you think. When your best thinking is destroying you, it’s time to accept help.

But there is GREAT news!!!

Addiction is treatable! You can get well!

Substance use disorder isn’t really about drugs and alcohol. It’s the absence of self. This void is described as a hole in your soul, and you can’t love others when you’re empty inside. Therapy peels back the painful layers and heals that void through connection, honesty, and hard work. To love oneself is the beginning of lifelong recovery.

If you’re contemplating rehab, know this. It’s the best decision you’ll ever make for yourself and your family. Reach out for help and find out what 23 million North Americans have already discovered… We do recover!”

Lorelie Rozzano