When I first tried to get heroin addiction help in the late nineties, I thought it would be a good idea to tell my family. I was living in a halfway house and they kept telling me I needed to get honest, so what better place to start than with my family? Besides, I was very lonely at the time and I needed their help to overcome my heroin addiction.
But it didn’t go well, not at all. The short version is they disowned me. To them, anyone who needed heroin addiction help was a loser, a moral failure, a scumbag. And truth be told, I WAS kind of a scumbag. I hurt a lot of people. I stole, lied, and cheated to get what I thought I needed. But it was what I DID that made me kind of a scumbag, not what I WAS.
Things are different now. I sought help for my heroin addiction by receiving substance abuse treatment programs and things got better. I’m clean about twelve years now and my family trusts me again. And I don’t blame them for disowning me now. How could I? I hurt them again and again with my actions. But they were also under a misconception, the same misconception most of the world lives under – that addiction itself is a moral issue. It’s not though. How we treat people – that’s the moral issue.