Often, addiction as a disease, is compared to diabetes.
People will say that people with diabetes aren’t being stigmatized for their condition.
And you’re right. I agree with that.
People develop it.
Sometimes it’s random, other times it is a lifestyle combined with genetics.
What would happen if you met a person, let’s call her Jane.
Jane has developed diabetes, but has it under control and is managing her condition well.
She has a diverse plan full of helpful dietary and fitness tools along with a support group as her health regimen.
It has been over 6 years since Jane has had complications with her diabetes!
Congrats, Jane! You totally rock. Well, maybe you, maybe your hp, maybe Jesus. Maybe both, or neither. Which ever you prefer. Congrats in a humble way, Jane.
I know Jane does not look in the mirror every morning and say-
“Oh, hey Jane. You have diabetes. Don’t forget you have diabetes. It can kill you. Be careful Jane.”
Or when Jane meets someone new or introduces herself to a new friend or co-worker, she is not like-
“Oh hey, I am Jane. I have diabetes. Well, I do but I eat healthy and I exercise, go to the doctor regularly and really don’t have any issues with it anymore, but 6 years ago I did, and I could in the future- but only if I chose to start slacking on my personal health and wellness and really just changed most of my lifestyle but it is a possibility. I think it always will be, but it is great meeting you.”
Maybe that’s going too far for you but I don’t think it is.
I think that Jane looks in that mirror every morning and she is so excited to have this full, healthy, awesome life and she is damn proud of herself for pulling it all together and learning to live in a new and different way that was, at one point, completely foreign to her.
Jane has grown and learned so much about herself and she knows, believe me, she knows that things could change in the future if she doesn’t stay committed, but Jane is not diabetes.
Jane has a condition but that is not her identity. It is something that she experienced that she will never forget, something that changed her forever, and it changed how she sees other people forever.
She will always do what she can to help other people who might be in the situation that she was all of those years ago.
Anyway, that is just how I think about it.
My brain might not make sense to you, and that’s okay.
This has been a long process for me to get to this place.
I know that I have always had a problem with the word.
I know that some people out there feel like I am adding to the stigma by refusing to identify as an addict. Many others are feeling empowered and are inspired to finally be hearing someone else voicing a similar (yet unpopular) view point as theirs.
For me, rising beyond what society has always (ignorantly) assumed an ‘addict’ is,
is exactly the opposite of adding to the stigma associated with addiction.
I am not an addict, I am a person who struggled with an addiction, and now I do not.
I might always have a brain that will be susceptible to developing an addiction if I am not mindful and vigilant about maintaining my physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological health, but being an ‘addict’ is just not something that I focus on every single day.
My new lifestyle that I have gotten used to is composed of all of the things that I need to continue on this path in sobriety. I have healthy people in my life, I am content and I am so grateful to be alive to experience all of this.
I have learned that it is my job to take care of me.
Wearing the label of drug addict to me means that I am what society has concocted it to be.
I am nothing like what is (sadly, and unfortunately) typically regarded as a ‘drug addict’.
It is important, in my opinion, to do our part to chip away at the stigma.
It is our job to live lives that reflect the EXACT OPPOSITE of what society has deemed ‘drug addict’.
We are all so much more than that, and we deserve to live free from being suffocated and categorized.
We are managing our lives.