Just because you are not a suffering addict doesn’t mean
another person’s actions during their addiction won’t affect you. The world we
live in today has been taken over by an opioid epidemic. A real crisis throughout
our nation and its consequences come in many different forms. One thing we can
do to help is bring awareness to this issue, share information, educate
ourselves, and provide options for ones who suffer from addiction. Our society
is struggling, it’s almost as if you can’t wake up in the morning without
hearing that someone overdosed, got arrested, was involved in a serious car
accident or even died because of being intoxicated or high. You see it on the
news, internet, and in the paper. Addiction is something we should not ignore,
especially when the traumatic headlines are in our face everyday.
Newark, N.J. (February 20, 2019)
driver high on drugs crashes bus with students onboard.
The bus driver was
transporting students around 1 p.m. when the driver went off the road and hit a
tree, suffering from a drug overdose. The bus driver was revived using Narcan.
RARITAN, N.J. (February 8, 2019)
Driver sentenced in drug-related crash that killed infant.
A driver who was high on heroin
when he struck three people on a sidewalk, killing an infant and seriously
injuring the child’s mother and 5-year-old brother, is headed to prison.
New Jersey (January
Drug overdoses reach beyond 3,000 in N.J. for the first time.
People in New Jersey are still dying from overdoses in extraordinary numbers. While state officials recorded the largest year-end total yet.
These are just some
examples of what this epidemic has caused. We need to reach out and offer help
to addicts who are struggling, so that their or someone else’s future isn’t
destroyed or taken from them too soon.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out and ask for help.
What does mental health mean? Simply defined mental health is a
person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.
In todays society the
topic of one’s mental health is becoming more openly discussed, as it should.
For some of us we go along in life never being extremely impacted by our own
state of mental health, but that is not the case for everyone. Mental health
problems can cover a broad range of disorders, but the common characteristic is
that they all affect the affected person’s personality, thought process or
social interactions. For example, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder can
cause someone to have impulsive behavior or difficulties remaining focused.
Some more openly discussed are Anxiety and Depression, in serious cases these
can be life threating if not treated properly.
There is not one single
factor to cause a person to have a mental health disorder. Some may stem from a
family history of mental health disorders. Others can be caused by changes in
brain chemistry from substance abuse or a drastic change in one’s diet. Social exposure can also form the
foundations for harmful thought patterns associated with mental health
What ever the cause,
don’t be ashamed to ask for help. These issues effect many of us, even
celebrities, Lady Gaga said it best during this year’s 2019 Grammy Awards.
“If I don’t get another chance to say this, I just want to say I’m so proud to be a part of a movie that addresses mental health issues. They’re so important,” she said at the mic. “A lot of artists deal with that and we gotta take care of each other. So, if you see somebody that’s hurting, don’t look away. And if you’re hurting, even though it might be hard, try to find that bravery within yourself to dive deep and go tell somebody and take them up in your head with you.”
Fortunately, there are ways to treat a mental health
disorder. One being prescription medication in conjunction with behavioral
therapy or cognitive therapy So, if you or a loved one has signs of a mental
health disorder, it’s important to seek help or treatment. Don’t feel like this
is something you have to go through alone.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health disorder, we can help!
There is a constant overwhelming feeling of fear and worry when you love someone in active addiction. Whether it be a friend, child, parent or spouse the nightmare is the same. I say nightmare because that’s what it feels like, and anyone who has been in this position I’m sure would say the same.
When you love someone, who is actively in addiction you tend to blame yourself. Was there something I could have done to prevent this? I should of know, why didn’t I see this coming? While they refuse to take responsibility, they will proceed to tell you, and everyone around them it’s their fault. We may or may not know this, but we must understand that there is no control over an actively addicted mind. As much as we want to shake that person and ask them why. The truth is they don’t know why they allow their lives to spiral so far out of control. Most of the time when they do realize the damage has already been done.
Every addict has their own rock bottom, and even though we think about all the destruction, broken promises, this “nightmare” has caused. If they do not see it as their rock bottom and are willing to get help as their loved ones we cannot fix them. I know this from experience. I have been on both sides, the addict and loving an addict. Through my experiences loving an addict can be far more painful than being in active addiction. I am not trying to minimize what an addict goes through but for the loved ones, we stay up all hours of the night wondering if their okay. Try to put on a fake smile and hold it together just to make it through our work day. Continuously waiting for the dreaded phone call that they were in an accident or worse dead. While they are out running around, all we can do is sit wait, and hope they are safe, and pray for this to end.
For anyone who has a loved one in active addiction please remember this is not your fault, and you are not alone. We may need to love them from a far but they are still loved, and when they are willing and ready to receive help the best thing we can do is be there.
The stigma of addiction. Most of us have dealt with addiction in one form or another, and even with the severity of opioid addiction becoming more prevalent in the recent years, we still label addicts as junkies, crackheads, criminals, and fiends just to name a few. What most of us seem to forget is that junkie is someone’s mother, that criminal is someone’s child. We are all human and come in to and leave this world the same way.
I myself am an addict in recovery, and for so long struggled with the stigma around addiction. It made me feel different from everyone else, like I was beneath them. The simplest daily tasks I didn’t want to do, because I felt like anyone who looked at me saw me as a junkie. That all they had to do was take one look at me and could tell. This happened even after having some time in recovery.
My addiction started when I was 17 years old, 6 months after my 18th birthday I had managed to destroy my car, lost my job, got arrested, and while all my friends were preparing for collage I was trying to figure out how to get more drugs. I battled active addiction on and off for 8 years, I struggled with everyone’s perception of me, and as human beings do, I was so worried about what everyone else thought. One day I sat down and really thought about it. Why did I feel this way? Why was I so worried about what everyone thought? You know what the answer was I wasn’t okay with myself. I wasn’t proud of everything I had done in my recovery. I didn’t truly love myself. At this point I realized yes there is always going to be a stigma around addiction, but I am proud of myself, and we as recovering addicts need to change this stigma the powerful, negative perceptions commonly associated with substance abuse and addiction. In doing so we can change thoughts and ideas others may have about addiction. We can show them how powerful, recovery is, and if they just have compassion for the suffering addict, then maybe they won’t feel unwanted, different, embarrassed to ask for the help. I fight every day for another day sober. Let’s drop the stigma and help someone take the first step and get one day.
An Evening of Education and Support on Addiction, sponsored by Recovery at the Crossroads and Lev Rochel Bikur Cholim of Lakewood was held this past Wednesday, June 27. Guest speakers included Rabbi Shlomo Gissinger Shlita and Lew Abrams, ACSW, LCSW, CASAC.
Those present were privileged to hear from some of the most acclaimed experts in the field of addiction, getting educated about addiction and receiving resources for recovery. There is a solution!
ADDICTION- The word addiction sends shivers down my spine, the reason being that I understand addiction very well; not from a clinical standpoint and not from a rabbinical standpoint but from an addict’s standpoint.
If you look up the definition of addiction you will find many different explanations; the most common being a disease of the brain with compulsive behaviors. I, however, have my own definition from my personal experience as a frum Jew who attended Yeshiva growing up. My definition of Addiction is the Malach HaMaves. That may sound harsh to some people, but I believe addiction is actually worse than the Malach HaMaves… the Malach HaMaves takes one individual at a time while addiction takes and destroys entire families at once.
That being said, the fact that I am writing this and that I am here today is not to talk about all the misery and destruction that goes along with addiction, but rather the freedom and happiness that comes along with recovery. I am so lucky and grateful to have had this experience. People who have suffered from this disease and are willing and able to put in the work and become honest with themselves and others, live lives that others cannot fathom or would never dream of.
Throughout my journey, I went to many treatment centers and through it all, I had no option of receiving treatment with other addicts coming from the same background. Today, however, we have options for both men and women at licensed facilities such as Recovery at the Crossroads… where men and women from the community have the opportunity to experience Shabbos and Yom Tov and all the other beautiful gifts of Judaism that I took for granted while receiving therapy and gaining skills necessary to stay clean and sober and live productive, happy and wholesome lives.