With all the negative talk in the media lately about the heroin crisis, it’s easy to develop the mindset that things are hopeless and that there can’t possibly be a positive outcome when it comes to dealing with addiction. Even those familiar with addiction: professionals, advocates and people in recovery have been overwhelmed with how pervasive this epidemic has become, and it’s easy to see why when all you see and hear is death and devastation.
But I want to talk about something that is not being talked about enough and that is hope. Right now we are being bombarded with images and stories practically every day about people dying, families being destroyed, communities struggling to figure out how to get a handle on the crisis…it’s enough to make you want to throw your hands up and say what’s the point? I understand this; I know what’s it’s like to feel like things are never going to get better and that there’s nothing you can do. I’ve been there, my family has been there; millions of families have been there and we are here to tell you that things can and do get better!
While I appreciate the media bringing attention to a crisis that is causing so much pain and loss, what I wish they would also do is show those who have successfully beat their addiction and how their lives have changed for the better now that they have made it to and stayed in recovery.
Why don’t they do more of this? Is it because it makes for a better headline to talk about death and destruction? Does misery draw more viewers; does sadness gain more readers or listeners? I ask these questions because to not talk about those who have successfully found recovery is to do them, their families, and their communities a disservice.
Seeing is believing
Unless you have personally gone through or watched a loved one battle addiction, you can never fully appreciate how difficult this can be, so to know there are millions of people who have successfully made it through the battle is something to be celebrated. The impact of seeing someone make it through something that you may be struggling with and know that the only options are not death or jail, is powerful and can literally save lives!
People who are struggling with addiction need to know, see, and hear that there is life after addiction and that recovery is possible. Think about a situation you may have been in; where you thought there was no hope and things would never get better. Now imagine seeing or hearing a story where someone in that same situation made it through; how did it make you feel? I’m sure you felt like most people would: that there was a possibility that you would make it through too…that there was hope.
That is what can be achieved on a much larger scale if the media would start to talk about these types of stories; they would be giving millions of people and their families who are suffering from addiction hope. Just the idea that things could get better is all the incentive a person needs sometimes to keep trying, to keep fighting; to believe that they are worth recovery.
Hope is in short supply these days, what with the climate in this country leaning towards exclusion, fear, and hate. Now add to that the added burden of dealing with an addiction and all the stigma that goes with it, and you can imagine how crushing it can be to just be fed stories of sadness, death and misery…
What I want everyone to know is that as long as the person with the addiction is alive, there is ALWAYS hope; there is ALWAYS the opportunity for things to get better. But just like with most things, you have to see it to believe it; it is something that you can put in your mind and draw upon when you need that extra strength to make it through.
I know personally how happy it makes me when I hear stories about recovery. I love to see people who had given up on themselves or had been written off find their inner strength and self-love and realize that they are worth recovery. They deserve to have happiness and love in their lives and recovery makes all that possible.
Stories like this not only give hope to the people and families struggling with addiction the inspiration to keep fighting, but it also helps to build compassion, empathy, and understanding in the community because you never know when you might need it yourself.
Nadine Herring is a blogger that specializes in writing about addiction from the family perspective and community building & organizing. She is a Heroes in Recovery Lead Advocate, community activist, runner, new cyclist, and owner of a small animal kingdom consisting of 2 dogs and 3 cats (all rescues).