A little compassion goes a long way

The tongue is a double-edged sword. Gossip is hurtful, and its cousin, Stigma, is, too. And both are disrespectful. Everyone is subject to their moments. Humans err. But we can make things better, too.

For eons, mothers have taught their children, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything” and “Small minds talk about people. Broad minds talk about places and things.” Gossip usually involves misinformation and lack of accurate facts. Stigma is disgrace because someone fails to measure up to society’s standards. Both interfere with a person’s self-esteem, self-worth, self-image, influencing them to conclude that they will never be good enough, never be enough. Discouraged they will fail to reach their greatest potential. Without incentive, they feel they will never gain approval.

The debate continues regarding recovery. People are critical of substance abusers saying they choose to abuse their substances of choice knowing what is going to happen to them. The critics say it isn’t a disease, but a choice and they have no sympathy for them. But do they understand why addiction has been called a disease?

Other critics remark about anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder, “Just pick yourself up, brush yourself off and give it another go.”

A little compassion goes a long way. Everyone is fighting a battle. We just can’t always see the battles others are fighting, just as they cannot see ours. We can see physical problems, but someone with depression has probably been hit with so many punches they just can’t pick themselves up anymore. They may feel like they are in a bottomless black pit and can’t get even a toe hold to pull themselves back up where they can see a little light and feel enough reason to keep trying to pull themselves back up.

The person parked in the handicapped spot who looks like they are in perfect health may have a health issue you can’t see, perhaps a lung ailment, some condition that prevents them moving too fast or pushing too hard. You can’t always tell by appearances what disability a person might have.

The person who has become addicted to a risky substance usually has a co-existing issue. Maybe they had a painful injury that required medications to treat the pain, but over an extended period of time, developed a dependence. That doesn’t make them bad people. They made bad choices.

It’s hard to overlook addiction, though, when you have been repeatedly victimized by a loved one who is addicted and continues that path.

“Addiction has touched nearly everyone in our community,” advises Family Recovery Center. “We find ourselves in the midst of an unprecedented epidemic of substance abuse and overdoses.” The agency has added new programs to serve those struggling with drug and alcohol addictions and/or mental health issues.

To understand how the brain is affected by abused substances, visit the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) website at https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drugs-brain.

If you are struggling with a loved one’s addiction and need help, Al-Anon meets at 7:30 p.m. Mondays at Fleming House in Lisbon, the yellow house behind McDonald’s. The phone number is 330-420-3760. Narcotics Anonymous meets at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at Fleming House.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

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