Please Know...

As I come to know the men and women of Kensington, specifically the homeless and addicted, their stories become increasingly sensitive and personal. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist in regard to these fine people. Names are rarely their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

On The Outside Looking In: The Mystery of Addiction

I was recently asked if safe injection sites promote heroin use.   Expanding the question a bit…

Does providing food, water and clothing, fresh needles and showers at local agencies promote heroin use?

After this year of hearing the stories that I’ve heard directly from the people living in their addiction, I’ve come to this conclusion:

Nothing promotes heroin use more than the lack of a system in place to fully and humanely deal with this current pandemic!

No one decides to become addicted. 

No one wants to stay addicted. 

For those of us on the outside looking in on this issue, that is to say, for those of us who have never personally dealt with addiction within our own being, there is a mystery that we simply cannot fully understand.  The strength of a drug addiction is outrageously powerful. 

Perhaps these two illustrations will help us understand:

1. In a conversation with one man, a long time resident of Emerald City, I asked him if what I've heard is true about the sense of having a demon inside of them in their addiction.  "Absolutely!  This demon makes me do things that I would never otherwise do to support my habit that I would never otherwise have.  I am not the person who does these things.  The demon is doing them and I feel powerless to stop it."[1]

2. I introduced myself to a new resident of Emerald City, a woman in her 20s.  I mentioned my church affiliation.  She promptly shared with me her deep love for our LORD.  With a sparkle in her eyes, she explained that as a devout Roman Catholic, she tries to attend Mass every day and loves it as her expression of her love for her LORD. 

She paused.

The sparkles in her eyes started to run down her cheeks as tears.  She looked at me and said, "I'm sorry. I have to leave now.  It's time for me to go humiliate myself."   She wiped away her melted sparkles, turned and left for her evening of “dates.”

If those of us on the outside of addiction looking in can just accept the fact that there is a mystery there that we cannot and will never fully understand, then there is a chance that we can more readily accept the addicted person as being fully human and worthy of dignity, honor, respect, and love.

[1] There are many ways to interpret what the ‘demon’ is.  Some will say that it is Satan.  Others will say that the drug is the ‘demon.’  However you may interpret this, suffice it to say that it is a power seemingly beyond one’s self.

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