What It Means to Be an Addiction Advocate ?

2017-03-27_4-56-00

Kristi Lynn

SFYB Author/Writer & Friend

Many addicts have failed to move into recovery because of their environments, their communities, and their surroundings. They have been tossed aside, shunned, and avoided due to their disease. Regardless of the population or location, opiates, drugs, and alcohol are everywhere. The ability to continue is equally prominent – and sadly, so is the stigma surrounding addicts. With all of the negativity and what seems to be an unforgiving and relentless cycle for an addict, why in the world would someone choose to be an advocate?

Compassion. It really is that simple. I have been blessed with many friends. I also know many that have suffered at the hand of addiction. I have known those that have lost a family member due to the grips of addiction. I see people that I have known for a lifetime still struggling in the cycle of addiction. I know that opportunities for me, the one who has not suffered from an addiction, are greater than those that have.

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I have watched repeatedly as addicts continue to live among the people in my community that refer to them as worthless, untrustworthy, felons, and wastes. I have seen and heard comments made by people I know regarding the of shaming addicts for the destruction suffered from addiction. I have been told, whether directly or indirectly, to associate myself with better people, that these people are a lost cause. I have even been brought to a level of questioning my own judgment for friendships I have endured over the years. My community, as are others, is quite finely divided.

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Those that have suffered and are suffering with addiction are also great people. They are people that feel lost and want to numb the pain that life seems to hand them repeatedly because the drug is what they know. The drug keeps them in that place that society has put them; they believe that they can’t change, they won’t change, and are ashamed of what they’ve become.

However, on the other side of this, I am also a Mom, as well as having an extended family covering all ages. Realizing that resources and information are limited, I would never want those I love to be at a loss in recovery. I am tired of watching those I have known battling their addictions unable to see their own worth. I refuse to accept that behind bars is where an addict belongs. I believe that help should be there, in over abundance.

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I am aware that an addiction can begin, or even continue, for many years before it causes destruction and wreaks havoc. I have also learned that rather than take on the problem, many will deny it exists, they will ignore that it needs dealt with, and they will continue to live in naivety. I have watched how this has done nothing except to maintain the problem for those suffering. It has kept them trapped. It has kept them outside of the boundaries imposed by the community; of who is accepted and who is not.

edmicdicWith this epidemic rising at alarming numbers, I am also aware that the day may come when someone, whom I love dearly, may also become victim to this disease. I have seen how friends and those close to me have already suffered. I have seen how the ignorance of the uneducated has spread among the masses. I have watched what happens to those left to their own devices, trying to survive without the resources, and having no outlet of support outside of their own immediate families. I would never wish this upon anyone, and I pray it never happens to my son, my nephews, my nieces, etc.

Quite frankly, I realized that the more I learned about addiction, the more I did not know about addiction. I have had many conversations with those that don’t view addiction as a disease but instead as a character flaw, a lack of good ethics, values, and morals. I have been told how people don’t change, how being an addict is something they will always be, and that this also means they will forever drain those around them of love and money, and that nothing good will ever come from supporting an addict. Of all of the statements, the only truth that stands at the forefront, is that an addict will always be an addict. However, I also know that this does not imply that an addict can never change. An addict does not have to remain in active addiction.

Since my advocacy began in 2016, I have seen and met many addicts in active recovery. Each of them know what they are up against personally and externally. Living as a drain on society is the one thing that each of these recovered addicts are not doing. In fact, they are sharing their stories in the hopes that they will help another.

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Recovery is in fact the other side of addiction. Anyone that tells you otherwise, is a very uneducated individual that feels he has a right to declare another person’s worth based on past poor choices. In fact, I have found that those stuck in the shaming part of society are the ones that hold society back from progression. These are the people that live inside of their own self-fulfilling prophecies.  A self-fulfilling prophecy is defined as any expectation, positive or negative, about a situation or event that affects an individual behavior in such a manner that it causes that expectation to be fulfilled (Mirriam Webster Dictionary). This also maintains their comfort zone.

Additionally, they are the same people that neither handle change well nor believe change is possible for an addict. What happens though is that most likely one of these people will soon know someone that is directly affected by an addiction. And then this person who refused to listen or learn, will reach out and want help, he will then want to know what addiction is and what can be done.

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As an advocate, I have myself been shunned by members in my family and my community. But I have also been commended for my efforts by other members of both. I still hear and take part in conversations about one or more people suffering from addiction. But the change for me has occurred because of the conversations I have had with people I know that are needing support, information, and advice for themselves or loved ones. I am aware of both the good and the bad opinions around me. I support those that need supporting.

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Being an addiction advocate means that I am always learning, that I will offer support and information to those that need it. It means that when someone tries to take away hope from an addict that chooses recovery, I will be there. It means that in a world of shallowness, my mind is open to opportunity. It means that for every negative remark, I have facts to show otherwise. It means I am actively seeking change in the communities that need it the most by offering awareness and resources and being a voice for those faces that don’t have one. It means that even when people choose not to listen, I will still be sharing for the ones that are listening. It means that in a world that needs compassion and hope, I am helping to spread both.

I find that those that stand against my advocacy have only fueled my motivation. I am proud of my advocacy. By sharing what I know I am able to help others. The negatives I receive, I turn into positives. Life happens to all of us, and it is up to each of us to make the most of our journey. None of us deserve to live a life stuck inside of the mistakes we have made.

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Kristi Lynn
I graduated from Kent State University in 2009 with a Bachelors degree in English. I will soon graduate from Tiffin University with a Masters degree of Humanities in Creative Writing. Obtaining a graduate degree was a personal goal of my own.

I came into the recovery community with open eyes and a naive mind. I began researching addiction and rehabilitation on my own accord. In a matter of months and through involvement online, I found that helping others is what I am meant to do and is what I am meant to be doing.

I am from a very small community, surrounded by many other small communities, in rural Ohio. Geographically nested in low populations, I have found the stigmas surrounding not only addiction and addicts, but also of the family and friends of those suffering, to be trying and difficult for those considered to be cast out of the social spectrum.

With my own initiative and perseverance, and also as a non-addict, I have prevailed at educating myself, which in turn has allowed me to educate those around me. Not only am I outspoken with many I have known throughout my entire existence, but I have found myself widely accepted and well known in the online community.

With the connections I have made, as well as the social marketing work I have accomplished, I am able to spread the message of hope, alone or with others, as I am determined to go beyond all boundaries that remain intact, not only with addiction, but with the close-minded mentality as well.

I am in the process of obtaining Peer Recovery Advocate certification through the state of Ohio. Once this is final, I will then move into learning SMART Recovery and will undergo the education necessary to facilitate meetings. While I may not be included through the mandated guidelines within the NA community, I can achieve the skills necessary to continue to assist and educate those around me.

Regardless of the individual process for each person, I am adamant in the belief that nothing changes if nothing changes. Instead of sitting back with hands tied while those around me suffer, I will put my thoughts and heart into action by doing all that is within me to be of better service for my community.

As a Mother, I am determined to raise a son with a mind that is open to accepting possibility. I am driven to make sure the needs of his physical, mental, and spiritual well-being are met. Not only this, but if at any point in his lifetime he finds he needs resources or tools to bring about positive changes in his own life, that he will have every avenue open and the means necessary will be within reach.

I do not feel society as a whole, or as a portion, holds the right to judge another or to deny anyone of growing and becoming the best person he or she can become. Society should have no bearing over deciding who will succeed and who will not. In a world where anything is possible, those stuck in the grasps of addiction deserve to have more than enough resources to promote a positive change. Rather than there to continue exist a lack of resources, we all deserve more than enough resources to help ourselves and each other become the best that we can become.

Norms are meant for the weak minded and are unfortunately accepted by the masses. I am strong willed and I will not stop this journey until I can reflect contently upon all of the correct changes having been brought about. Every addict is suffering, in many ways, and on many levels. Each addict is someone's mother, father, sister, brother, son, or daughter. An addict is someone. What has happened before remains in the past, and the present is the here and now. There is no future for those accepting a dismal fate. What is suffered from addiction is that which can be temporary. Given the educational tools and the correct resources anyone is capable of change. Nothing is permanent in this life until death, and everyone deserves to live life to their fullest abilities while living.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

I am an addiction advocate. I'm a voice for many and that isn't stopping for anyone.
Kristi Lynn on Email

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