Everyone has been exposed to alcoholism and/or drug addiction through a family member, friend, co-worker, or neighbor. Because of that, everyone has experiences, thoughts, and usually opinions about the issue. Probably the most common response I get is, "Isn't it true that a person has to really want it in order to get better?" Of course, that's not really a question as much as it is a declarative statement. Then the "you-have-to-want-it-to-get-better" comment is followed up with something like, "I have an uncle that's been to treatment six times and he's still drinking and using drugs. He just isn't motivated." These comments and questions are all understandable because each person that has an experience with someone else's addiction has often had a heartbreaking and emotionally painful time with that person.
In 1989, the first President Bush declared "war" on drugs. It didn't require Congressional approval but everyone seemed to agree that declaring a state of war on a drug was the right thing to do. We were facing a very ugly cocaine epidemic (not that any drug epidemic is pleasant) and the popular opinion of
Methamphetamine or "Meth" as we more affectionately call it has been in our collective consciousness in northern Nevada for at least the last 5 or 6 years. We've been exposed to stories of thin, unkempt young people with scab and pock marked faces, dental issues that defy description (and that are a major gross out), and an insatiable compulsion to use the drug despite the inevitable consequences. We have been shown people who give up spouses, careers, and even their children to use this scourge of a drug.