Have you ever been to a benefit to help raise money for a friend, co-worker or family member suffering from alcoholism? The cost for rehabilitation can be very expensive and for the family can be difficult to handle alone. Chances are you have not however you may have been to a benefit to help support someone battling cancer. The funds are often a great relief as treatment is costly and can bankrupt entire families. Why is it we reach out to those who are suffering and not to others?
I believe it all comes down to how we view each of these individuals. It is easy to understand the sympathy for someone diagnosed with a disease that could end their lives through possibly no fault of their own. But do we extend the same amount of sympathy for someone who cannot stop drinking and may die due to these circumstances? I believe we do not because we are aware that the cancer patient cannot decide to change their life and save themselves however the alcoholic may have this ability.
If you have ever had anyone in your family fight drug and or alcohol abuse you understand how difficult it can be not only for the person fighting addiction but for the people around them trying to understand this difficult disease. Here lies the issue. There are two ways of viewing this behavior of abuse, either as a disease, or as a choice.
There is a debate taking place in an attempt to define drug abuse as a product of an individual’s choices or as a disease that one has no control over.
My personal opining is that it may be both. I believe we may choose to use alcohol and or drugs for many different reasons for example in a recreational way or as a tool to help cope with life’s difficulties or simple as an act of curiosity. For some there is a point where occasional use triggers a diseased part of our brain to take over leaving the person with very little control to manage the frequency and amount of use. This may be deemed a death sentence for addicts unless treatment is applied.
Obviously the severity of each case varies as the abuse may be small and the ability to manage it may only take a little work however in some cases the ability to control is absolutely abolished leaving the person spinning out of control.
I can understand why people may view drug abuse as a choice as they watch a loved one make a conscious decision to continue their use whereas an individual with cancer has absolutely no control over the continuation or worsening of the disease.
Today more and more reports of drug abuse are being reported to have started with a physician prescribing medicine intended to help a patient however ultimately opening a door to addiction that may not have been touched upon.
I cannot say with certainty that drug abuse should be viewed exactly the same way as a debilitating disease however I do hope we continue to move toward a better understanding of drug addiction.