You Are Not Alone: The Fight Against Addiction
WORDS BY CHELSEA HESS- MOORE
Addiction and tragedy due to drugs overdoses has been at the forefront of local and national headlines lately. Now more than ever, it’s important for the public to know what resources are available to those who are seeking recovery options for themselves or a loved one.
Livengrin, located in Bensalem, is a non-hospital residential facility for the treatment of addiction. Molly Stanton, MS, Livengrin’s program manager, has worked for years with people battling addiction. She knows all too well the common misconceptions about the illness as well as the common reasons why people tend to fall into a habit that eventually turns into addiction.
“In 15 years working with addicted people, I nearly always find that addiction began with pain and suffering,” she explains. Stanton says common causes of pain and suffering include physical pain from an illness, living in poverty or dangerous neighborhoods, and PTSD for combat veterans, first responders and victims of rape or assault. These things can lead to a person resorting to ways of coping which can be unhealthy options such as drugs and alcohol.
“They do things that are contrary to their values just to keep the withdrawal or pain away. The good news is that with proper treatment, addicted people do recover. Just like with diabetes and heart disease, it takes a while and there are often relapses and setbacks.”
Addiction is trickier than going to the doctor for a diagnosis. Some people are not receptive to the idea of seeking help and, in many cases, family members and friends don’t think a loved one is in need of professional help until it is too late.
“Families and the general public also share some misconceptions about recovery and some of them are dangerous,” says Stanton. “Key among them is the idea that an addicted person has to ‘hit rock bottom’ in order to seek help. This is a tragic mistake and simply untrue. Many clients I have worked with over the years were mandated by work, family or the legal system.
They weren’t ‘ready’ to stop using in their minds, but treatment was the vehicle by which they became ready to make some changes. Had we waited until they hit rock bottom, perhaps they would have lost their family, become unemployed due to legal history, or died.”
While this information is helpful and a starting point for all seeking help for themselves or loved ones, Stanton knows that it takes much more than just knowing what to do. It takes action, patience and the extending of love to those who need it the most during these hard times.
“Education alone will not end the stigma,” she says. “We need to each have the courage to meet addiction with understanding and compassion. This does not mean we condone the things an addicted person does, but we can see past the actions to the actor suffering underneath and take right action.”
And when it comes to advice for those who are addicted, she reminds everyone that this is a battle that is not to be fought alone and, regardless of your situation, there are others out there seeking help, fighting for a change and plenty of resources to utilize.
“Addiction is an illness that isolates people,” she says. “It can, at times, feel like the addicted person is completely alone, filled with self-loathing and suffering they have caused and the loss of control they experience. I’d tell them that in spite of all that, underneath the desperation of their illness, was and still is a good person. Recovery is possible, and I, for one, have never seen a hopeless case.
“Finally, I’d tell them they are not alone. Many have walked the path back to health before them and they are waiting in treatment programs and self-help meetings to welcome them and show them the way.”