Thursday, April 5, 2012

Persecution of People

As parents of addicts we all understand the symptoms and consequences of addiction. We see our children involved in illegal activity and then ultimately prosecution for the crimes they commit. It is easy for us to see and understand the symptoms of this disease and recognize what is happening with our addicted loved ones. These thoughts are not about prosecution for crimes. There are consequences to ones actions. Fitting the consequences to the actions is another article for another day.

My point today is about persecution versus prosecution.

It is easy to marginalize someone or a group when they don't fit into our view of the world and how it should be. Most of us can relate to persecution when we think about racial, religious or persecution of peoples with different backgrounds. History is full of examples that we remember or learned about in school. In hindsight, we all wonder how did so many people allow this happen to so many people?

Addiction is an epidemic in our nation and the world. A recent study estimates that over 10% of the US population is involved in addiction in some way, either active or recovery, that is over 30 million people! My point is not to argue the numbers, my point is that it is a real problem and it's not getting fixed doing what we are doing today.

Not so long ago I remember as a nation we persecuted people in this nation because they contracted a disease. In the 1980's we became aware of people with a disease and the lack of understanding of that disease lead us to persecute a massive group of people. What did we think in the '80's when we saw letters strung together, HIV+ and AIDS. Does the name Ryan White ring a bell? We persecuted the person instead of dealing with the disease.

I feel this is where we are today with addiction. Too many people are feel more comfortable with persecuting the person versus understanding the disease.

There has been progress in treatment for HIV+ and AIDS. There still is no cure or vaccine but no one can argue that there has not been serious inroads into treatment for these diseases.

Research and treatment for addiction is painfully slow. For a while we have had a chemical treatment, methadone. More recently there have been other chemical treatments such as Suboxone. There have been many alternative behavior modification models developed. Separately, in the 1930's the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step model was designed and has helped millions of people with alcoholism. AA has proven to be the most successful model to help alcoholics worldwide. NA, Al-Anon, Nar-Anon all adapted from AA likewise has helped millions. In my opinion even with all of this we are not where we need to be.

Until there is a more enlightened and educated population I believe we as a nation will continue to struggle with the epidemic of addiction.

Persecution of the addicted will not cure the disease of addiction.


Barbara said...

I'm sharing this on FB and my blog.

Thanks for writing about it, you articulated this point so well. I hope someday things change.

Anonymous said...

Between jail and prison, my son spent about 4 1/2 years (out of the last 12) behind bars due to his addiction. At a cost to the taxpayers of approx. $300 a day, the money would easily have funded a strong 2 year rehab program. Do the's staggering...

But here is the rub. Every one of the times behind bars put him closer to quitting. Each incarceration was more unpleasant, and longer (of course, that's how the justice system works). If I had to pick the turning point for him it was prison. He simply cannot stand the thought of going back, and now (going on 2 1/2 years) that has been a strong deterrent to not returning to that life.

Yes, we all want rehab instead of prison. But both have a dismal "cure" rate. At the end of the day it still comes down to the addict getting sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Dad and Mom said...


That's my point with this completely. "Both have a dismal "cure" rate.

My point is we are doing the same thing we were doing 40 years ago. Where is the research progressing with addiction?

We can only deal with what is available now. There ought to be a better way but there isn't so we deal with was IS now. Prison and rehab, dismal cure rate, today our addicted loved ones must do the best they can with what we have available.

Anna said...

Some day there will be a medical cure for a medical problem. Right now we only have the will power of the addict as bolstered by thier religeon, AA, NA or whatever.

Methadone and suboxone help many. AA and religeon help many. Most are never cured or so I read. But, in contradiction to this, I have also read that if an addict lives to 40 then most of them quit or shift to alcohol. ????????

Syd said...

If addiction and alcoholism are diseases, then I do believe that one day there will be a medical cure. Addiction has such a stigma attached to it that research efforts are probably underfunded. It's not a warm and fuzzy disease that makes people jump on the bandwagon. Still swept under the rug with a lot of shame seems to be the active mentality by so many, including funding agencies. I hope that will change.

Julie said...

Persecution or consequences? My daughter has stolen from us. Her friends have stolen from us. They broke into a neighbors house and took their alcohol. She has been in a sober living kind of environment or locked up since August when she tested positive for Meth while pregnant and was committed to treatment. She is proud of her sobriety and so am I. But, I am very aware that she has NEVER been sober in an unsupervised environment.

And, she still has the same friends. She has lost privileges at her treatment center every. single. week. because she will not follow the rules. She still lies and manipulates. I don't believe she will be successful when she is discharged. Her son is in foster care in our home. She called me sobbing because she is supposed to graduate in less than 2 weeks and she doesn't have anywhere to go. No one told her she had to find housing. Uh, where did you think you were going to live?

And, it is Easter. She is coming for dinner. People don't want her around. Even her Dad and I don't trust her. We plan on locking all our valuables up... the same way we did when she was a minor and we had to let her live at home. Am I persecuting her because of her addiction or her behaviors? I just plain still don't trust her. Unresolved family issues, disagreements and holiday dinners. This ought to be fun. :o(

And, I wonder if I ever will get past this. Most days it feels like no.

Dad and Mom said...


I very much believe in consequences. You have every right to feel threatened and to establish your own boundaries. In fact I encourage healthy boundaries for every loved on of an addict.

My point in writing this had more to do with the stigma of addiction, much of it self induced but how it effects society's perception and the resulting persecution of people. In turn that translates into the resources of the nation in funding and a search for better treatment.

Tori said...

What a great post Ron.

Eventually, I pray addiction will be more understood and get better funding.