What’s in a name

What’s in a name

Ask anyone who knows something about addiction. Or read any article on the topic.

Most will say addiction is a disease.

When I first heard that, even long before addiction assaulted my family, I thought it was a kind way of labeling something people did to themselves.   Abusing drugs or alcohol was a choice, wasn’t it?  Or so I thought. And it often ruined them and their families.

But when I lived with active addiction, the term “disease” was comforting.  If my son had a disease, then maybe there was a cure for it.

I would learn there was a “cure,” but not like other “diseases.”

Over the years of my son’s abuse of drugs, I met many people who suffered with this “disease.”  Some shunned the nomenclature.

A young woman I knew well bristled at the idea that she had a disease.  Instead, she referred to it as an “allergy” to alcohol or drugs because she understood that she reacted very differently to such substances than did most people.

Disease or allergy, it became helpful for me to think of addiction as a chronic, lifelong condition that not only threatened my son, but also those who loved him.

Like any chronic condition, there were acute phases. When these happened, inpatient care was the preferred treatment.  It was available to Jacob if and when he was willing to accept it.

Most of all, there was a community of people who had what he had and offered their help.  Programs like AA help millions of people around the world every day to find support, hope and long-term recovery.

For me there was Al-Anon – a community that helps those who love someone with an addiction.

But whether it’s a disease, an allergy or a condition, there is treatment and there are programs like AA and Al-Anon, free, and available across the globe.

And no matter what you name it, there always is hope.