Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lessons of Addiction Endure

I recently heard news about a family member who drove drunk and crashed his car. Thankfully he (and no one else) was injured, but he is in trouble with the authorities and will probably have his license suspended, at the very least. Initially, I was shocked, but then I realized that this horrific accident was a long time in the making. We all know someone who is an addictive personality, and either they have been exposed through their actions, or it is just a matter of time before they are. When I think back, I always had a feeling that something like this would happen to him, if he didn’t change his ways. We are not close and haven’t seen or spoken to each other in a long time, but from what I understand, he still believes he doesn’t have a problem. While I am very concerned for him and his immediate family, I know that the only thing I can do is pray and hope for the best.

Some may argue that I am being too passive about this troubling situation, but I’m not. In my parents’ culture and many other traditional cultures, one must always respect his or her elders, even if they do not return the sentiment. Addictions like drug and alcohol abuse are still vehemently denied by many people my family and I have known from the cultural, ethnic and religious communities we have associated with, so I am familiar with how addictive behaviors have been too often ignored (or even enabled) since childhood. I’ve seen how strong denial is, so much so that it causes long term and even permanent estrangement. The shame of having an addict in the family is also very powerful, so secrecy is still easier than honesty for many. But living in blissful denial can only last so long.

Even though we live in the twenty-first century, I realize that we will continue to be reminded of the detrimental effects of addiction for the foreseeable future. I know that the lessons are not lost on me.

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