Who Is My Neighbor? It’s Not Always Clear.

“For too many families, addiction brings shame and judgment.”


Miss Jenkins who lived across the hall was definitely my neighbor.  Michael who lived downstairs was a good friend and a wonderful neighbor.  And Mrs. Jones who had superpowers and could keep her eyes on all us kids from her living room window was everybody’s neighbor.  Neighbors live near us, next door, on the block, on the corner or down the street. We trust our neighbor, build strong bonds and as the Good Book says we… love our neighbor.

However, when you’re a family with a loved one with a drug addiction, sometimes having a loving neighbor can be too close for comfort.   For too many families, addiction brings shame and judgment.  This leads to isolation and a sense of feeling alone.  So what’s changed?  Have our neighbors changed? Are these drugs so powerful that through osmosis they’ve gotten into our neighbors’ bloodstreams preventing them from loving us, trusting us or caring for us?

In my quest to find the answer to, “Who Is My Neighbor When A Loved One Has A Drug Addiction?” I found answers and comfort in this well known Biblical parable, The Good Samaritan.
Continue reading “Who Is My Neighbor? It’s Not Always Clear.”

Sticks & Stones

“I look forward to the day when someone has to ask, ‘What in the world is a junkie?’ ”

The other day I walked past a playground.  It seemed like there were hundreds of kids playing and having a ball. They were riding bikes, running, skateboarding and playing Double Dutch. There was so much energy. Everyone and everything seemed to be moving at a thousand miles an hour.  But, amidst all the laughter and youthful chatter I overheard one young boy call another a really, really, really, vulgar name, (the kind of name that got a kid’s mouth washed out with soap). I was amazed at how the young boy who was called the really, really, really, vulgar name responded.  He shrugged it off and simply said, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”  Then he ran off and initiated a game of “tag you’re it!”

I couldn’t help to stop and think if only it was this easy for people living with a drug or alcohol addiction.  They are called some of the most vulgar words I have ever heard; junkie, crackhead, drunk, abuser, addict and dirty.  And they don’t just shrug it off.  I’m not a doctor.  So I don’t fully understand the epidemiology of this disease, but I do know that these vulgar words can hurt, bring shame and lower self esteem. It can result in someone not seeking treatment because they don’t want to be labled. It can lead to families feeling ashamed and guilty.

So, with the exception of this blog post, I’ve made a personal commitment to never ever use any of these words again.  I challenge you to do the same.  There are 1,025,109.8 words in the English language and millions more from other languages. Surely you can find more uplifting and supportive words.  And if you can’t …make some up.  I look forward to the day when someone has to ask, “What in the world is a junkie?”

Your words have power. They can build someone up or tear them down.