Some days you come across people who think addiction is a moral failing. That person thinks and maybe says “Why can’t they just not drink?” or “Cancer is a true disease, addiction isn’t” or my personal favorite “Calling it a disease is giving people an excuse to use”. We have two choices when we come across these people.
Option 1: We can try to educate them
Fighting the stigma of alcoholism and addiction is something to be passionate about. We want to educate others on their misconceptions. We want to build awareness so those that are struggling are comfortable reaching out for help. We want to give a voice to those that are too hurt to share the struggle of loving someone who has an addiction. There is nothing wrong with that.
We also want to defend ourselves and our loved ones. I know my mom loves me even though she is an alcoholic. I know she will always love me even though some days the addiction chooses alcohol over my needs. I don’t think she is lazy.
I can try to explain the chemistry/biology behind addiction to a person. I can review the fact that the American Medical Association defines it as a disease. I can reference scholarly articles, doctors, research, etc. I can talk about how it is being treated medically. I can talk about the brain alterations when someone is addicted or dependent on alcohol or another substance. I can fight until I am blue in the face.
This person’s mind may be opened. This person may just argue with me in return. Regardless if they change their mind, at least I tried.
Option 2: We can drop it/them.
This sounds kind of lazy doesn’t it? Shouldn’t we want to stick up for ourselves and the people we care about? Shouldn’t we try to educate them? Shouldn’t we want to help them understand so that if their loved one is affected by this disease, they will be better off with this information? Of course!
There are people in my life that do not accept my mom’s alcoholism as a disease. It absolutely breaks my heart. I see them judging her. I see them judging me for thinking the way I do. I see my mom’s fear when she is around them. It’s painful.
I have argued with these people. I have presented all of the facts. In the end, I was hurting more than ever. I did nothing but fuel their passion to say that addiction is not a disease.
I believe that we should try to fight the stigma behind addiction and alcoholism BUT
We do not have to suffer so others can grow.
It is not our job to educate every ignorant person that wants to make us or our loved one hate themselves because they are “lazy”, “entitled” or “sinful”.
Being the loved one of someone struggling with addiction is hard enough, adding on the stress of battling every hateful person would be impossible.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t try to fight the stigma (because I started this blog to address stigma and stereotypes about alcoholism) but I am saying it is okay to choose not to argue with every person that still thinks that way.
Some days we just need to pray for that person instead and move on. I no longer talk with the people in my life that think that way. It isn’t my job to change them. It is my job to find happiness. Talking to them did not bring me happiness and it did not change their mind. I tried and now I can let go.
If you have people in your life that are hurting you because they simply do not understand, it is not your job to suffer so they can grow. If you have tried or if you are just too tired to keep fighting the same battle, it is okay to step away.
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