I worked in the homeless community for the past eight years. I served individuals who were diagnosed with co-morbid, or dual diagnosis disorders. Many people described my efforts as working with the lowest of the low. The rock bottom. I always disagreed.
I knew that my clients were some of the bravest people I had ever met…
They had suffered unspeakable trauma, abuse and neglect throughout their entire lives and were still strong enough to come into my office to describe their trauma to me – a stranger.
What I came to realize was that the taste of alcohol, the rush of the needle and the let-down of the pill had faded years before for my clients. They didn’t use because they liked it. Rather, they used drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. An escape from devastating memories.
Let’s Stop the Blame “Game”…
We would never blame a person who was upset about a cancer diagnosis for their frustrations or attempts to cope. And we would not blame someone with an unexpected loss for their shortcomings. So, we shouldn’t judge harshly those who need substances to make it through another 24 hours.
We can be upset about the addictions that a loved one lives with. But let’s focus our energy on processing the trauma that led to use, and not on the reality that addiction was the only tool they had left to help them cope.