Articles, Blog

Addiction is Not a Lifestyle Choice, It’s an Illness

March 2, 2020


All right, my name is Megan and I’m in
recovery from addiction to opioids and cocaine. I’m from a little town outside
of Ottawa. Growing up I encountered numerous traumas that led me down a dark path. For eight years I struggled with addiction. I was in and out of hospitals,
institutions, treatment centers, I was at a point where I was going to die.
When I was 18 years old I was diagnosed with hepatitis C and at the time I
wasn’t sure what it was. I wasn’t explained what it was, I was
kind of told here’s your diagnosis see you later. I wasn’t connected to any
supports or services, so I was left with this virus that I didn’t really know
much about. How are you doing? I’m fine. How are you? Good, Nice to you. Nice to see you too. I remember you coming back into the clinic room and I think I got you a cup of tea
offer for a cup of tea and then you told me your story. You needed that story to be told and heard and that’s the important thing
is listening. We say mother nature gave you one mouth and two ears
to listen twice as often as you speak. A huge part of it for me to, coming
into this agency, you know I was so used to going into very clinical type of
environments where it’s like you have the receptionist’s almost like
caged off, and you have the waiting room and then I walked in here and it was
like that homey environment. I just felt comfortable. I didn’t feel
judged, I didn’t feel stigmatized, I just felt welcomed. Like I finally
found somewhere that I belong. The whole clinic is based on the premise of
meeting you where you’re at and then we go from there as we get to know each
other. It works best. That way you know I’m listening. As in Megan’s case
the important thing is when clients come into our agency we want them to feel
welcomed and accepted for who they are and where they’re at at the time. It’s
important for people to realize that addiction is not a lifestyle choice it
is an illness. Many of our clients who suffer with addictions also have some
sort of a mental health illness attached to it, so it’s important to look at this
as an illness that we can help them treat. Any healthcare professional should
have access to all the resources in their particular community that they can
pass on their clients to, if they need to. So knowing where the food bank
is, knowing where the soup kitchens are, know where the shelters are. If
you have no food in your belly, if you have nowhere to put your head that night
it, is hard to concentrate on some of your health care issues and once you get
past that it helps build that therapeutic relationship. Your clients
will know that okay I can come to this this professional and they’ll actually
help me and that’s the big thing is so many times you get busy during the day
it’s easy to brush people off. You know here’s your prescription, report this
that or the other thing. They all have a story and a lot of their stories involve
very personal trauma. So keep the judgment out, try to look at
your client as someone who is somebody’s child, somebody’s brother, sister, mother.
These are important people to somebody else they should be important people to
you as well.

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