In a recent column by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg regarding the tragic death of a 23-year-old woman to addiction (“The Jewish Community and Drug Addiction: Al Cheit for Not Listening, Not Learning and Not Acting,” September 28, 2017), he writes, “it is our fault, Al Cheit, that we were not listening to her cries, Al Cheit for our indifference, Al Cheit for our ignorance, Al Cheit for not listening, for not acting.”
Addicts—what a horrible word, let’s use the phrase, “people who are addicted,” whether to alcohol, pills, illegal drugs, even anorexia—are excellent at hiding their addiction [from] their parents, friends, even psychiatrists. They are excellent liars, too. They deny they took the pills in the medicine cabinet. They deny the money was used to buy marijuana. They lie [about taking] some money from their parents’ wallets. They say they only had one drink, when they had six. Their eyes are red because they have an allergy. They say they can’t get out of bed and go to school or work because they don’t feel well, when it’s really because they have a hangover.
Few know they have a problem, or how bad the problem really is. “I only drink or smoke pot on weekends.” They tell their families and friends, even therapists, they are fine or happy, when they find their “happiness” in escaping from stress and frustration and unhappiness. They “medicate” themselves from their fears and emotions. They finally seek help when they admit to themselves they hit bottom, and must get help, on their own.
Sometimes they never do. Sometimes, it’s too late.
Name withheld upon request