Imagine for a moment that you have a treatable but incurable disease; all of the people around you were judging you for the having the symptoms of that disease and you became a social leper. Imagine that you sought treatment and though you have learned how to manage your disease to the best of your ability people continue to keep you at arm’s length because they are not sure if the treatment was effective. Imagine that after treatment for this incurable disease the health care system failed to provide you with ongoing support and follow up care to ensure your successful recovery. Imagine if you were an addict.
The first thing you need to know about addiction is that it is a disease and not morale a weakness. The negative stigma and shame associated with addiction is the primary reason that addicts do not seek treatment and the lack of ongoing support is the reason treatment is often ineffective the first time. For long-term success in recovery, the recovering addict needs ongoing support and to experience the hope of a better life. The easiest nonclinical way to assist a recovering addict is to plant a seed of hope for recovery and not focus on their past shameful addictive behaviors. Try asking two simple questions: 1) what do you want out of life? 2) How can I help you?
-Shirley R. Johnson