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As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

You can't do this for me and yet the opposite of addiction is connection.

Earlier this week, I saw the following statement posted on Facebook on one of the outreach group sites that I follow.  I copied it into my word processor and then it happened…  My computer burped… I lost the original post and, in the absence of my morning coffee, could not recall where I had been reading it.

I wanted to know more about this disturbing statement that was making me wonder if I should stop doing what I do in Kensington.  I Googled the first sentence of it and found the statement in its entirety in this post from 2005.

I suddenly started wondering if I was reading something that is very accurate to today's current situation in Substance Use Disorder and addiction or was this something more along the lines of coming from an excellent but outdated textbook from two decades ago?  Here's the statement[1]:

"If you love me let me fall all by myself. Don't try to spread a net out to catch me, don't throw a pillow under my ass to cushion the pain so I don't have to feel it, don't stand in the place I am going to land so that you can break the fall (allowing yourself to get hurt instead of me) ... Let me fall as far down as my addiction is going to take me, let me walk the valley alone all by myself, let me reach the bottom of the pit ... trust that there is a bottom there somewhere even if you can't see it.

The sooner you stop saving me from myself, stop rescuing me, trying to fix my brokenness, trying to understand me to a fault, enabling me ... The sooner you allow me to feel the loss and consequences, the burden of my addiction on my shoulders and not yours ... the sooner I will arrive ... and on time ... just right where I need to be ... me, alone, all by myself in the rubble of the lifestyle I lead ... resist the urge to pull me out because that will only put me back at square one ...

If I am allowed to stay at the bottom and live there for a while ... I am free to get sick of it on my own, free to begin to want out, free to look for a way out, and free to plan how I will climb back up to the top. In the beginning, as I start to climb out .. I just might slide back down, but don't worry I might have to hit bottom a couple more times before I make it out safe and sound ...

Don't you see ?? Don't you know ?? You can't do this for me ...

I have to do it for myself, but if you are always breaking the fall how am I ever supposed to feel the pain that is part of the driving force to want to get well. It is my burden to carry, not yours ... I know you love me and that you mean well and a lot of what you do is because you don't know what to do and you act from your heart not from knowledge of what is best for me ... but if you truly love me let me go my own way, make my own choices be they bad or good ... don't clip my wings before I can learn to fly ... Nudge me out of your safety net ... trust the process and pray for me ... that one day I will not only fly but maybe even soar."
If this statement is accurate to today's situation and we take it at face value, anyone who does anything for/with people on the streets and in the addiction phase of their officially recognized Substance Use Disorder, might as well go home and find something else to do with our time.

But wait! 

There is something for us to do even if the statement above is 100% accurate:

Develop and Maintain Connection for that time when our loved ones on the streets are "ready"!  I encourage you to watch the following video which addresses the importance of connecting with Substance Use Disorder patients who are in the addiction phase of their disease:[2]

Here's the takeaway statement from this video:

And what I've tried to do now, and I can't tell you I do it consistently and I can't tell you it's easy, is to say to the addicts in my life that I want to deepen the connection with them, to say to them, I love you whether you're using or you're not. I love you, whatever state you're in, and if you need me, I'll come and sit with you because I love you and I don't want you to be alone or to feel alone. 

And I think the core of that message -- you're not alone, we love you -- has to be at every level of how we respond to addicts, socially, politically and individually. For 100 years now, we've been singing war songs about addicts. I think all along we should have been singing love songs to them, because the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection. 

So what do we do in our connection with our loved ones when they are "ready"? 

The answer is actually easy and yet our society can't seem to do it:  Connection may lead them to seek treatment.  Medical facilities must treat them and treat them without delay as a medical patient of their Substance Use Disorder!  Connect with and treat them in an environment of dignity and respect.

Patients of Substance Use Disorder who are reliant on Medicaid for financial coverage of their disease's expenses[3] face the requirement of climbing  "Medicaid Mountain."  Many of our nation's daughters and sons fall from and die as they hike in their weakened condition along the high and narrow cliff trails (that do not have guard rails of dignity and respect) that lead to the health care that they need and now want.

[1] I've broken it down into separate paragraphs for easier reading.
[3] This is almost every homeless person.

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