Draw any line through our community and we quickly discover that addiction is an ever present struggle for many. Addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, food and more; they are part of our story in Chestermere. Addiction is close by and is affecting those we love. The best choice we could make would be to see it, recognize it, and journey with those who are facing addictions.
Addictions can feel taboo and isolating. Some people frown on addictions as though the browbeating will help scare away the addictive behaviours. Sadly, this treatment only drives people to cover up and no one ever found hope while hiding in a corner. Still others are uncomfortable talking about addictions, afraid to say the wrong thing or hurt feelings. Still others deal with addictive behaviours and may have hurt others, and do not know how to find a way through. Healthy communities find ways to build friendship, understanding, and places for vulnerability and care. This often happens between ordinary people, between addicts and non-addicts, between professionals and patients, between addicts and other addicts, and between neighbours. It takes dozens of relationships to help find pathways towards hope and healing.
While there are several successful addiction programs, the 12 step program was started by an alcoholic in 1935 and has continues to have a lasting positive impact in the lives of so many. Today AA has an estimated 2 million members, and it is not the only support and recovery program to use the 12 steps or a variation. There are now 12 step programs for adults and teens addressing behaviours relating to debt, clutter, food, gambling, narcotics, nicotine, sex, workaholism and more. The 12 step programs have helped millions to find sponsors, share openly and without judgement, and to begin to address the root of their addictions. For many addictions become a life-long struggle and the 12 steps become a vital way to see and talk about their behaviours and feelings.
Additionally, there are support groups for those family and friends who have been hurt or confused because of the addictions of those they love. Al-Anon is for friends and family of addicts and COSA is for those impacted by the sexual addictions of others, for example.
Addictions are hard. They can take so much and demand so much. They hurt and disorient those involved. Our neighbourhoods are places where those with addictions discover they are welcome. Isolation and loneliness are met at the door when ordinary neighbours let each other know they are seen, available, and willing to talk. When we see each other as lovable, knowable, and beautiful people made in love and for love, we see the story behind the addiction. If you are struggling with addiction, know that you are not alone.