To The Girl Asking Us To "Stop Calling Your Drug Addiction A Disease," Please Stop

To The Girl Asking Us To "Stop Calling Your Drug Addiction A Disease," Please Stop

That's not how that works.

I recently came across an article titled Stop Calling Your Drug Addiction A Disease, and I was struggling to see eye-to-eye with the writer and her stance on addicts’ so-called “you chose it” conditions.

I'd like to think that I am fairly open-minded and accepting of differing opinions, but I disagree with the vast majority of what she had to say.

Not only is it incredibly offensive, but it demonstrates her apparent lack of knowledge regarding addiction and its everlasting effects on all parties involved. I would like to instead educate people on how addiction is, in fact, a disease, and that there is much more to the story than many of us realize.

First things first, addiction is a disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the definition of drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.

Once a person becomes tolerant of his or her drug of choice, it becomes seemingly impossible to break the habit. Withdrawal is a scary reality for addicts, as symptoms can include things such as excruciating pain, insomnia, and emotional detachment. The physiological consequences of not having what your body now needs can be absolutely brutal.

That being said, has it become more understandable as to why most addicts cannot sober up without help? Does it make sense why the opioid issue in our nation is referred to as an epidemic?

SEE ALSO: Why I Don't Regret My Cutting Addiction

Let me eliminate the following conditional statement: addiction is a disease, but only because it is brought on by those who suffer from it. Nobody wakes up one day and says to themselves, I'm going to become an addict.

That is not how it works.

There are several factors that come into play with how someone could end up an addict. For example, there has been speculation by psychologists and medical professionals alike that alcoholism runs in families. With the alcoholism gene comes other motives for use that can affect a person’s risk of becoming hooked.

Some people may find that drinking is a way for them to cope with other issues, such as stress brought on by work or school and struggling with mental illness. Every addict has a story to tell, and very few of them will say that their addictions came out of left field.

I wish for the stigma involving drug addicts’ “oh, poor me” attitudes to be done with -- not just for the 23.5 million people hooked on drugs and alcohol in the United States alone, but for their parents.

Their siblings. Their loved ones. Their children.

Put yourself in the shoes of parents who just received a phone call that heroin took their son or daughter’s life. I dare you to tell me that all you would have to say is, well, they chose drugs.

The CDC reported that 91 Americans per day die of a heroin overdose. That number must go down, and it is not going to happen if people do not stop criticizing addicts for their conditions. Why? Because if they are made to feel ashamed of themselves, then they will hesitate to ask for help.

No addict made the direct, conscientious decision to become part of such a devastating statistic; they did not want for their lives to become a living hell.

It is time to stop bashing addicts for what they go through on a regular basis, and instead, we need to provide them with love and support on the road to recovery. I hope that what I have said instills compassion and understanding in those of you who may feel otherwise.

Cover Image Credit: The Atlantic

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Loving An Addict: The End Of You And Me

I knew this would be how we would end, but I never thought it'd be so soon.

I've rewritten this a thousand times. It's been edited, and edited again. I can't seem to get it right. Maybe because I'm not ready.

Or, maybe it's because there's a part of me that'll never be ready to say we reached the end. Maybe, just maybe, there's a fraction of a possibility we haven't.

I posted this quote once, on Instagram: "One day, whether you are 14, 28, or 65 you will stumble upon someone who will start a fire in you that cannot die. However, the saddest, most awful truth you will ever come to find-- is they are not always with whom we spend our lives."

And you looked at me the next time I was at your house, busted my balls, and said, "I saw your Instagram post about me." You proceeded to recite the entire thing word for word. I laughed, because at the time I posted it, it wasn't about you, and you hadn't even been following my private account, so someone must have showed it to you. It wasn't about you at the time I posted it, but maybe it was always meant to be.

I went to Hawaii last week. And I can't tell you how many times I felt you there; on the tarmac as the plane landed, the sun dipping under the horizon. In the sunshine as I laid my head back, floating in the ocean. On the edge of a cemented outcropping of Diamond Head that's off limits. And most importantly, by my side-- on the beach, at Manoa Falls-- in some small piece of every adventure I had.

I tried to leave you in 2016. Yet you still managed to be the first kiss of 2017 the same way you were the last one of 2016. I never could shut you out or leave you, not really, no matter what you did to me. And I have some small comfort in the fact that I was your last kiss, even though you won't be mine. And that you never left me either, no matter what I did to you.

I wrote you a letter, last year, and told you some things. Things like you couldn't be in the cards for me; you couldn't even be in the same deck, because you'd always be an addict first and a husband second. That you'd have to fight those demons every day. That I'd never understand that craving, but I would feel that pain. And holy shit, do I feel that pain.

But I was wrong. I owed you more than that. And I am so sorry.

I tried to build you up with my words, but I still managed to tear you down with my actions. I was afraid of being hurt-- again-- and again, and again. So I tried to hurt you instead.

Two wrongs don't make a right, and in the end I think I started to realize that. I tried to turn it around for us; to accept you as you were.

But you told me that effort and trying wouldn't be enough for us. I guess you knew something I didn't. And maybe they wouldn't have been enough. Because as hard as I tried, I could never save you.

You knew my worst fear, babe. I told you a million times. Walking into work at the county morgue and seeing your name on that board. Picking up the phone and listening to some cop rattle off your name while I was expected to take the details, handle the call and your corpse. Waking up next to you dead in bed, stiff and foaming at the mouth.

And while I did wake up next to you, alive, on Saturday, it doesn't change the fact that you were still dead by Sunday. It happened a little differently than I imagined it, but my worst fear came true just the same. I still lost you. And in losing you, I still lost the future I vehemently denied wanting, in a feeble attempt to stave the pain. And guess what? I still feel all of that pain anyways. Part of me will feel all of that pain, for the rest of my life.

I'm not alone, in my grieving. You have parents, and sisters, and cousins; aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas, friends. All of these people that loved you; they all tried to save you the only way they knew they could. None of it could have ever been enough.

You'll never be a husband, or a dad. You'll never meet your future nieces or nephews. You'll never breathe, ever again. You made me the person who's going to be thirty-two, standing at your grave.

And while we may move forward, love, we will never really move on. We'll never "get over" losing you; a brother, a son, a friend. Whatever you and me were.

We'll move forward, and keep spreading your legacy. Because everyone should know just how beautiful you truly were, inside and out. Because for all the pain you felt, and everything we went through, you were still the light in every room.

I'll forever miss your smile, and the way we'd be at each others' throats. The way you'd duck away, trying to hide your laugh and your smile when you didn't want me to know you thought what I said was funny. The way you'd hug me from behind the second I was within five feet of another guy. The way we used to fight. God, I love the way we used to fight. And I can't begin to express to you how unreal this still is to me.

We weren't dating. We weren't even together. We could go months without speaking and pick up where we left off without a hitch. We weren't everything, but we were something. You were my best friend, my biggest weakness, and a giant pain in my ass. You were my future, so long as you were breathing. I could do anything, be anyone, so long as there was hope for you and me in the end.

I don't know how to live in a world where you're not breathing. So far, I've hated every second of it. And I'm not the only one.

I told you that if you died, I died. Remember? And I did. The person that I was before I lost you, is buried in the ground beside you. Who I am now, is something I haven't entirely yet come to comprehend.

And now I'm left standing here, looking at all of the promises we made each other. Promises we never got the chance to fulfill. I knew that some day I'd lose you. That one day I'd wake up in a world where you'd ceased to exist. And still I prayed, I prayed that I'd be wrong. I hoped, until the very last day, that you'd turn it around for me, no matter how stupid that sounds.

But now I lay here in your shirt and I look through videos and pictures and the black cavern that sits in my chest aches at the edges, while grief sucker punches me in the gut and steals air from my lungs. You are so loved, bubby, by everyone who knew you.

I said at the beginning, that maybe there's a fraction of a possibility that this isn't the end, not really. On Earth, maybe. But I know in a sense you're still here; your presence. And even though this is the end of us down here, I know that someday you'll be waiting for me. And you'll say, "Let's go home," like you always did after a long night. And you'll be ready this time. And I'll be ready too. And then we'll begin again.

Cover Image Credit: Rachel Perna

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Recreational Drugs Are Illegal For a Reason, So Let's Keep It That Way

Smoking anything is a dealbreaker for me.

I've never been a fan of things associated with party culture whether it's been alcohol, cigarettes, or recreational drugs like marijuana. The amount of THC, which is the component that makes a person attain the associated "high" in strains of cannabis has grown over the years compared to what it was in the past.

According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, "In the early 1990s, the average THC content in marijuana was about 3.74 percent. In 2013, it was almost 10 percent, and much higher in some products such as oils and other extracts." This could mean it's easier for users to become addicted as well as increased emergency room visits for symptoms of losing touch with reality also known as psychosis.

This is a very dangerous symptom of taking recreational drugs that has led to things such as death or very destructive self-harm such as gouging one's own's eyes out. The cognitive effects of continued marijuana use is serious including a decrease in ability to make decisions, concentrate, and memorization abilities. These cognitive effects last days and begin almost immediately with smoking marijuana. Smoking marijuana is more likely to make a person engage in risky behaviors due to their inhibited ability to make good decisions. Some examples of these known risky behaviors are things such as unsafe sex and getting in a car with someone who is intoxicated or high.

Smoking marijuana regularly will obviously cause effects on the body similar to regularly smoking cigarettes such as lung problems. Smoking marijuana is also seen to increase a person's suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, and it is known that it will increase their susceptibility to developing schizophrenia. Teens who smoke cannabis are 65% more likely to get into a car accident than their non-smoking counterparts. Despite what most people may think, anything can be addictive including the use of marijuana. When marijuana users stop using, they will develop symptoms of withdrawal. Long-term use has been known to cause permanent effects on the brain such as changes in brain structure as well as lower IQs. Stroke and heart failure are also common effects of long-term marijuana use.

There are known numerous negative psychological, physical, and social problems that come with using cannabis. According to, users "Often taking marijuana in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than planned", have a "Persistent desire to use marijuana or trouble decreasing or controlling its use", "Spend significant time either obtaining marijuana (for example, buying, growing), using it, or recovering from its effects", have "Significant social, educational, occupational, or leisure activities are either abandoned or significantly decreased as a result of marijuana's use", "Marijuana use continues despite being aware of or experiencing persistent or repeated physical or psychological problems as a result of its use."

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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