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.

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