By Lorelie Rozzano
Score another one for mental health and addiction – another life, that is.
A life that never had to end. Another tragedy. Another story. When is enough going to be enough? How many people need to die before we become willing to stand up as a society and say no more?
The disease of addiction is a treatable illness. Yet the stigma and shame attached keep those with it from coming forward.
The recent death of country musician Mindy McCready is yet another example of the never ending list of people losing their lives to addiction. Addiction doesn’t just happen to celebrities. It happens in our own backyards. It happens to all of us. It doesn’t matter your age, colour, gender, profession, address, religion or income.
The scary thing is, it happens and nobody is talking about it. We’d rather bury our heads in the sand or put it down to someone or something else. Maybe it’s the boss’s fault, or the kids. It could be the government, or the teacher little Johnny had back in Grade 3.
It’s just easier to look away. After all, addiction isn’t pretty. Let’s face it, it’s downright tragic. Besides, they should be able to will it away, smarten up, straighten up. Maybe it’s a moral issue. Could it be hopeless? And what about family members – are they at fault? Who caused this?
We are coming at this all wrong, people. At the moment I write this someone is contemplating the idea of ending his or her own life.
The depth of shame and hopelessness this illness carries with it is unimaginable. And one that is far too heavy to carry alone. As I finish this sentence, someone is ending theirs.
We can’t wish this away. Or love it to death. We can’t protect it or ignore it.
No one with a mental illness and/or addiction disorder would ever choose to live this way. Problem users can stop. Addicted individuals can’t.
This is not signs of a weak-willed individual. Nor is this is a bad individual. This is a sick individual.
And one who judges themselves far harsher than anyone else ever would.
Wake up, I beg you. Get an education, get support, and get your head out of the sand. Take it from one who knows. I sobered up 15 years ago and I’m not afraid to talk about it.
With intensive treatment, education and ongoing support, this illness is treatable. I see it every day. People do get well, they do recover. And often go on to be successful, significant members in our society.
Home lives move from an environment of dysfunction to stability, promoting wellness for future generations. If you think you have a problem, chances are you probably do.
This illness is progressive and terminal. It gets worse – not better – over time and like any other illness, the sooner it’s treated the more successful the outcome. Don’t let yourself or someone you love become another statistic.
There’s no shame in becoming well. There are mental health, drug and alcohol resources in every community. You don’t even need to identify yourself over the phone.
You can find the number in your phone book or online. You can talk to your doctor, a family member, your pastor, or a friend. Hope really is just a phone call away.
Addiction affects one out of 10. We all know and love someone with this illness. It’s time we start talking about it. There is a way out. And it’s easier than you might think.
But we must begin. We need to have this conversation.Somebody needs to start it.
Lorelie Rozzano is a Nanaimo author and family counsellor.