marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Recovery Blog

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This is a recovery blog, recovery from addiction—my own and a number of my family members. But I’m hoping that it will evolve into other musings about my life. Recovery is a big part of my life right now. But it doesn’t define me. I’m the sum of many parts—and I have more years behind me than in front of me.

You know, it’s a darn shame that addiction has such a bad rap. Is it an affliction found only in industrialized societies? Do pygmies in Africa, some of them, eat too much food? Do descendants of the Inca living in Peru still chew too many coca leaves? And how do their peers treat them if they do? Do they laugh it off: “Oh, there goes Kon again, racing through his chores. Shit, man, I could use some of that stuff he’s chewing. I could barely get off my mat this morning.”

Or, deep in darkest Africa, our pygmy pal Polyps finds herself ignoring her chores so that she can scrounge around for fallen mangoes that she stuffs into her mouth like a hungry dog. She waddles back to her circle of huts looking like she’s about to retire and have another little pygmy. How do her peers view her? Do they inflict shame and flog her with banana leaves?

I’m just wondering out loud if this disease is confined to Western civilization. I guess it doesn’t matter. Right now I live in the heart of New Mexico, one of our country’s hotbeds of drug abuse. When I was house hunting six years ago, I looked at one house about which my agent stammered in horror and full of apologies: “Oh God, this was a meth lab! Let me show you my next house.”

I had been living in the sleek and urban Washington, D.C. area where meth labs were certainly better concealed among the abundance of trees. This house had all the carpeting ripped up and huge empty vats, like witches’ cauldrons, sitting next to the back door. Six small rooms the size of jail cells dotted a corridor to the right. Was this a junkie dorm? Depressing. Nope, I didn’t want to buy that house. Bad karma. I’d heard that Albuquerque, New Mexico was a mecca for methamphetamine production (they filmed Breaking Bad here!), and there are more deaths to heroin overdose than car accidents. But enough statistics. Addiction in all its forms is epidemic in our society. Yet, unlike cancer, multiple sclerosis or diabetes, addiction carries considerable stigma and shame. Fortunately the medical community is trying to lead us out of the dark ages into a more enlightened understanding of addiction. Bloggers like me continue to add our voice to the other voices of recovery.

And maybe in my next lifetime—I’m gonna come back as a chocolate eclair that feeds on and reproduces itself simultaneously—there will be no more stigma around addiction. Just as there are whole hospitals devoted to cancer treatment (such compassion!), there will be whole hospitals (government funded) devoted to addicts and their families. In my next life it will be a no-brainer: of course the disease of addiction warrants as much compassion as any other disease!

Does anyone really believe that a heroin addict WANTS to stick a needle in his arm and live in the gutter? Think about it! Addiction is not a choice—it’s a horrible, cruel, illness that often kills our children before it actually kills them.

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