The Stigma of Addiction
Anyone can find themselves caught in a struggle with addiction, but everyone has a different story to tell about how they got there and where they came from.
Timmy McMorrows is a counselor here at Transitions Recovery Program and he has opened up to share his one-of-a-kind story. Through his recovery journey he has come to realize that addiction doesn’t act alone, it pairs itself with mental health struggles and both need to be addressed before healing can begin.
But before we get into his details, we wanted to take a few moments to discuss the importance of sharing stories like these.
The word addict or addiction can give people a bad taste or make them feel uncomfortable. People are either all too familiar with it because they or someone in their lives has experienced it and struggled with it.
Or… they know nothing about it and consequently, want nothing to do with it. They think that addiction happens to people who are nothing like them and as long as they stay away from these people, they will remain immune to addiction.
In recent years with the public crying out about the opioid epidemic in this country, addiction has moved into the spotlight, but not without bringing the traditional stigma along with it.
Recent Studies have shown that while the general public may sympathize with those struggling with addiction, they still don’t want to have anything to do with them. Being ostracized by the public is no way to live and is going to cause far more harm than good. Stigma can sometimes make people afraid to reach out for help once they finally realize they need it.
The best thing we can do to reduce this stigma is to share our personal stories. What the general public doesn’t realize is that ANYONE can be caught in addiction’s clutches.
People automatically have this perception of drug addicts living on the street who don’t bother to do anything with their lives. While that may be the case with some, we have to remember that these people had lives before their addiction. Even the most dignified, high-salaried CEO can be caught up in drinking, drugs, gambling, or other addictions and there is no telling where their story may end.
When we share our stories, we show the rest of the world where we came from and we show them our human qualities. We give them something that they can relate to, something that they can understand and not reject. We start to give addiction a voice.
So let’s get into Timmy’s story, shall we?
Like many struggling with addiction, Timmy came from a family that cared for him deeply. He and his siblings were raised with a strong moral compass. He grew up surrounded by family and friends, but despite some might think, this wasn’t enough to shield him from the horrors of addiction.
With Timmy, it all started when he was about 15. He involved himself with drugs and alcohol, but it turned into a relationship that he couldn’t quite get ahold of. He never got the education around addiction recovery and didn’t have a clue that there were deeper issues at play feeding the addiction.
Timmy’s family couldn’t understand why. They couldn’t understand why their son got to the point where he had to steal from them to satisfy his addiction. And it wasn’t just them who fell victim to his addiction, it was the neighbors too. Timmy stole from whomever he could so he could buy what he then needed to survive.
After high school, life didn’t get better, life got worse. Timmy became the guy living on the streets. He had nowhere to stay and before entering a detox program, he was living in a men’s homeless shelter. He had reached a low in his life that no one in is family ever could have predicted. He had become a shell of what he once was.
But luckily, Timmy got the help he needed at Transitions. He recognized the problem and he took action to fix it. Now, this wasn’t a quick and easy discovery, it took a lot of time. Timmy struggled with it. It took him more than once until he was able to fully grasp his situation and know what he needed to do to stay clean.
What He Discovered…
But the one thing he came to learn above all was the strength of unconditional love. Timmy had a support system that he could turn to if he needed it. Despite everything that he put himself and his family through, they were there for him when he needed them.
Once they saw that he was fully committed to breaking away from his addiction, they were fully invested and became a part of the recovery process themselves.
Timmy has been with us every step of the way during his journey and we couldn’t be prouder of how far he has come. He was able to dig into the root causes of his addiction and is able to fight it every day. He recognized the importance of opening up and sharing his story and has dedicated his life to helping others like him who find themselves trapped in the cycle of addiction.
When we don’t open up and share our stories, we make it so much harder for those who don’t want to admit that they have a problem. Seeking help can feel embarrassing and once you admit that you are an addict, you feel like no one will treat you the same way again.
It doesn’t matter where you come from, whether you had a strong family support system or not, addiction can affect anyone and drastically change their lives. The more we are willing to share our personal stories, the more likely we are to inspire others to either find help themselves, or change the minds of people who don’t understand addiction and its effect on the world.
Have a story you’d like to share? Comment on Timmy’s video, we’d love to hear what you have to say!