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Addiction: Everyone's Pain

Writer’s block. I hate to even say the words out loud. I’m not really sure if that’s what ails me or if I just need a change of pace. Sitting at my desk in the den didn’t work. Relaxing on the porch watching the sunrise over the river didn’t work. Even my tried and true taking a walk outside and sitting by the water didn’t work. Nothing was working. And I was getting anxious. I had a deadline to meet. My editor was waiting for the next section of my new book and I kept getting stuck on the one storyline. Something was holding me back.

Healing. What was I thinking when I decided to write my next book on healing? What did I really know about healing?

When I decided to write this book I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I knew I would have to open up old wounds and some not so old. But when the story took a detour I found myself in unchartered territory. I found myself talking about addiction. A place of intense pain where there seems no way out for those suffering with addiction. And a place of overwhelming pain for those left behind.

We can barely turn on the news without hearing of someone’s child suddenly taken from them due to what started off as a simple prescription for pain.

Being a child of the 70’s, addiction is not a new word to me. But the issue today is that it is now in areas that had never been touched. At record numbers. It had always been seen as “their” problem. Now it is everyone’s problem.

Like so many others I am haunted by the memories of those taken so young. A young co-worker who got hooked on pain killers after an accident. He had such a promising future at a top firm. He lost his job due to poor decisions caused by his addiction. By the time I found out something was wrong he was on a downward spiral that took his parents, his siblings and all who loved him down with him.

Over and over I continued to play in my head the sound of his mother’s worried voice when she called me at the office to ask if I knew what was going on with him. I didn’t.

When he was accused of certain things I quickly came to his defense. As a mother I wanted to protect him. To fight for him. Are you serious? What would he be doing in that part of the city? What would he be doing with people like that? Then it turned out he was in that part of the city. He was with “those people.” He now was “those people.” And suddenly he was no longer my co-worker and I was no longer allowed to associate with him.

I kept thinking why didn’t I see it? I saw him every day. I could have stopped it. Why didn’t I stop it? But even if I had seen it it’s silly to think I had the power to stop someone else’s addiction. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. If only.

As a Christian I knew to pray for him. I had hoped that God would heal him of his internal pain. But not too long ago he lost his battle to the addiction. He will forever be a millennial.

Your twenties are where you make your mistakes. Your thirties are where you learn from them. And your forties are where you are just grateful you survived them. My former co-worker will never have that chance that so many of us take for granted. To live and to learn.

Some blame the doctors who write the prescriptions; the school systems for not monitoring and educating; the church for not being accepting and the parents for not being aware.

I don’t know if any or all are to blame. I just know that the young people today are filled with a pain that they have no way of letting out. And in their wake is a trail of broken hearts everywhere. We must find a way to help these children. To open our hearts and our minds to them. To offer a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. To not judge them one way or another. And to let them know that no matter what they are going through they can and will survive if they don’t give up. And they get the help they need.

As I sit here with pen in hand and tears silently streaming down my face I realize I have gotten past my writer’s block. Thanks to an intelligent, freckled face boy with a dry sense of humor and a sharp tongue. I still hear his mother’s worried voice in my ear and see the pain filled look in her eyes when she said good-bye to her baby boy. And I wonder if there will ever come a time when we, as a society, can get past our pain and be made whole again.

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