" Why does it matter if it's a "chronic brain disease" or a "bad choice"? If someone needs help, you give what you can. That's what makes us human. Addiction has already caused a massive divide within our communities and families; why give it more power to separate us further"
The Counseling Initiative
Why and how in the midst of this horrendous epidemic are we locked in a battle over who is right instead focusing on the best way to save or improve lives? When have, we as professionals, lost sight of the needs of our clients due to our relentless pursuit to "be right"? All the time wasted on trying to prove our righteousness has only had one direct result: a lack of focus on the real problem and a viable solution....and that my friend, is the biggest tragedy of all.
Perhaps all of this is being caused by the inability to progress, adapt or grow as professionals. Everyday we struggle with the constant battle of having an insurance company tell us what's best for our clients ... everyday we are forced to see the judicial system try to punish their way out of this epidemic...every day we are forced to see little to no change in how we treat addiction, despite all the research.... Every day we watch the government hand out billions of dollars to the same programs that have a 2% success rate rather than refocus and fund programs that produce lasting results or start new ones all together. Basically, we are suffering from the worst case of learned helplessness.
So that leaves us to do 1 of 2 things. Option 1, is continue to fight the good fight until you have nothing left to give. Until your so drained and frustrated that you are mentally unable to help anyone else. This is referred to as "burn-out" and it can happen to professionals or the family. Option 2, start a new argument that you think you can win. Ex: "It's a choice!" or "It's a brain disease!"
We, as humans, naturally want to have some level of control in just about everything that we do. We strive to understand, catalog and organize things throughout our daily lives and we don't enjoy when things don't want to fit in our boxes.
We try to force it into whichever box we think is best and we spend all of our time defending "our truth" while directly deflecting the real issues. Addiction is difficult to understand and its even more difficult to empathize with, especially if you haven't been directly impacted by it. So, what is the easiest thing to do when we don't understand something? We attempt to simplify it
The facts are already simple: there is no "right track" to recovery. What works for one may not help at all to another, and it's our job (as professionals, family members, loved ones) to remember that our view of "what is best" may not be best for the people we are trying to help. At the end of the day, it shouldn't matter if this a brain disease or a choice. The only thing that should ever matter is giving help to those that need it.
- TCI -