A couple weeks ago while I was doing laundry with my son he shared something with me that truly inspired me. As I am switching out the clothes from the washers to the driers he says “I hate it when people say they wish drug addicts would just die” a little puzzled I asked him why he was thinking about that. He goes on to share that kids at school often call drug addicts losers and say they should just die.
Now you may think, why would your son care? Well because my sons father overdosed 4 times over a span of a year and a half and that is something that my 13 year old child carries with him. He loves his dad, with that pure love a child has for a parent, regardless of their mistakes or issues. See, his dad, was like many people who become addicted to pain pills or opioids – he did so legally – with the full support and help of doctors.
My ex-husband developed a disease inside his bones called osteomyelitis. At first the doctors didn’t know why or how he got it. His bones were breaking into a million little micro-fissures. They started him on drip antibiotics and they suggested amputation. First he lost a toe on one foot, then on the other. Next they said it was aggressive so they needed to take one foot, and eventually they took they other. The disease progressed and spread, he was hospitalized over and over as they slowly removed more and more of his legs. Next they went below the knee and eventually above. Dozens of operations and excruciating pain left him addicted to pain medication. The physical and emotional wounds of losing his legs and his livelihood took their toll.
He overdosed over and over again on fentynol patches. He died and was resuscitated. Died and was resuscitated. Died and resuscitated. I am proud to say that after several years of fighting pain and addiction he has stabilized, gotten treatment for his opioid addiction and regained his mobility through prosthetics. See, life can get better, and as long as there is life there is hope. My sons compassion for people with drug problems comes from his love for his father. He doesn’t see them through the clouded lense of cold hard facts or “tough love”. He sees them through the soft lense of understanding and love.
I think he sets an example for adults, that sometimes you really have to look beneath the surface, and see the pain that others are carrying. I cannot imagine going through what my ex-husband has gone through. The sickness, the surgeries, the loss of mobility all would crush even the strongest of souls and people. God has given him the grace to survive it, because God loves my ex-husband. Just like God loves every other addict and wants to show them there is healing and restoration available. You see when God looks down at those who are struggling with addiction he sees them with those same eyes my son sees his father with, his compassion comes from his love.
Addiction is often just someones way of self medicating a deeper underlying issue. Something spawned through the need to escape pain or anxiety or depression. Try to look upon them as someone who is in a battle for their life because they truly are. Extend them grace. Every addict is someones father, mother, sister, brother, son or daughter and what they need most is help not condemnation. Some are trying to commit a slow suicide with drugs. These situations are painfull for the addict and their families, it is best to err on the side of love and compassion. You never know what someone is going through. Be kind.