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 bad 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 complete answer to all those questions, but that doesn’t stop us from seeing them as having some sort of weaker character.
As we drive past them quickly, we are thankful to not be under pressure to look at them because that would mean to face the stark reality of the "failings" of our society.
This comes 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 right? Or because the news stories have proven some are scammers.
So we gladly drive by, with a quick exhale as we pull out our phone to see what we might have missed in our lives or in the social media world, in those few moments of awkwardness.
Back to what will make us laugh or who liked our last post. Back to what to make for dinner.
Or we reach for the chocolate covered pretzels full of delicious fructose that melts 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? Just by helping others.
How good would it feel to feel compassion for another struggling soul. How good to feel like we somehow made a difference in someone’s life. I can’t think of a greater endorphin boost.