When I moved to the great state of Texas 11 years ago from my home state of Kansas, I knew no one. Literally.
I was thrilled when I attended a class and met a fellow Kansan! We’d never known each other in Kansas but Lezlee and I instantly had a connection and have been close friends ever since. When Lezlee and I visit, it’s as though we’ve known each other all of our lives. We didn’t have to create or establish a history for a connection- Kansas connected us.
As I was making a comment on a Facebook post in a Recovery group I’m a member of the other day, I felt that same feeling of contented relief of an established relationship and acceptance that I have with my friend. It caught my attention- just as Kansas connected Lezlee and me; addiction connected me to the Recovery group. Later, I was reading an article on a site about the fight against the stigma of addiction and I got the feeling of reverse discrimination by the author toward people who had a different view or didn’t understand addiction as a chronic brain disease. That evening, when a friend asked how our son was doing, I caught myself thinking that I didn’t want to have to explain the basics of addiction again, explain how brain science has proved that addiction is a chronic brain illness, etc.
I reviewed my day during my quiet time that night. It truly made me think.
I’m so thankful for the platforms we now have to connect and support one another. I don’t believe we’ll win people’s attention to a willingness to learn about addiction by bullying or shaming them- I know I didn’t want to have to learn about addiction, until I had to. Over the past 10 years, my husband and I have had many soapboxes we stood on dissolve under our feet- how could I expect someone else to know and understand what’s taken me 10 years to learn?!
May we never get so comfortable in our own circle that we become inclusive or unwilling to share our experience with those who don’t know or understand addiction. May we recognize the gift we have to offer when someone asks us about addiction, and be ready to give an answer that will help people easily understand addiction at their level of understanding.
All this, because although the landscape of addiction and treatment is changing, a person’s testimony is still the most powerful argument to ignorance- a person with a testimony is never at the mercy of a person with an argument. May I always be ready to give testimony to the experience and hope of Recovery, knowing that by doing so, I am helping end not just the stigma of addiction, but addiction itself.