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Another Voice: When it comes to addiction, love isn't enough

By Abigail Sandonato

Working in the field of addictions for eight years, I saw first-hand the destructive nature of the disease. I am writing to submit a call to action for supports and loved ones of those battling addiction. Educational resources and support network are available for caregivers. It’s time that we open dialogue about self-care, tough love, and about the communities available for support systems. Let’s unite to eradicate addiction from our communities.

If we could love our friends and family into recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, treatment centers and self-help programs would be obsolete. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case. Our country is facing an epidemic of monumental proportions. If one ever needed evidence, that love just isn’t enough to heal an individual battling with alcohol or drug addiction, the opiate epidemic certainly makes a compelling case.

Our call to action comes from the countless victims of the opiate epidemic. Shattered families, lives, and dreams have become a common narrative across our country. It’s time that we look beyond LOVE as a catalyst for change. Again, if LOVE was a cure, an antidote that is readily available, our nation would not be staring down the barrel of a hypodermic needle grieving and pleading for change.

I implore you, allow knowledge to be your catalyst for change. Seek education and information on the disease of addiction and process of recovery. Arm yourself with resources and supports to guide you through this process. You do not have to navigate through this turbulent terrain alone.

Unfortunately, shame, embarrassment, guilt, or the weight of burdening others, prevents us from seeking and utilizing essential resources. We denounce or reject supports, educators, and professionals when we need them the most.

Addiction, as a diagnosable medical condition, is a disease that warrants treatment. The fallacy that love is a cure propels the illusion of control over a life threatening illness. As a result, we hold unrealistic expectations for change, condemning our loved ones for their struggles. Or we take on the burden of responsibility for their actions. As a result, we are overcome with feelings of failure, guilt, fear, anger, and disappointment.

The path to recovery starts with understanding the disease of addictions and your role in this process. To maximize your role as a support in the recovery process you must fight the urge to suppress, avoid, or shut down. If you or a family member are struggling with the disease of addiction, you are dealing with a life threatening illness. Speak up, reach out, and get informed. It is time that we dispel the myth that is crippling our nation. We simply cannot love our friends and family into recovery.

Abigail Sandonato is the founder of Supporting Sobriety, www.supportingsobriety.org

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