Daniel D. Alman’s Jan. 30 letter (“Blame Drug Users”) reflects a public attitude toward addiction disease: It does not qualify as a public health or medical issue because an addicted person chooses to use drugs.
Individual choice certainly does enter in when people first choose to drink or to use other addictive drugs. Once addiction enters in, however, a potentially fatal disease takes over. Choice gives way to dependency.
Personal choices such as overeating, skin tanning and overworking have a profound effect on many serious health problems, yet we still approach such people medically. Shall we cease admitting them to medical care and no longer educate medical professionals in how to diagnose and treat such illnesses?
Not everyone who uses addictive drugs becomes addicted. Generally it’s a small minority. They have a disease and deserve our every effort to bring prevention and treatment efforts to save lives.
Public attitudes such as Mr. Alman’s make the efforts of people like me seeking to bring recovery to those addicted and to save lives much more difficult. Please do not speak out as if you truly understand this endemic, deadly disease. You are part of the problem, not the solution. I hope you are not prone to skin cancer or obesity either!
REV. J. DAVID ELSE
The writer is director emeritus of the Center for Spirituality in Twelve Step Recovery.