What is addiction? What is its purpose? How am I, as a non-addict qualified to talk about it? These were some of the questions I struggled with when I first started my employment here at Visions Adolescent Treatment Center. I was first hired as a Program Aide almost two years ago. As days and months passed by, I started realizing that addiction not only applies to drug and alcohol addiction but to all areas of life. Addiction in my view, applies to any unhealthy behavior that consumes ones life and leaves the soul ill-equipped to confront its true desire and goals. Is it not that any mental obsession, a psychological compulsion or any physiological or historical disarray that has not been confronted can qualify as an addiction?
It is difficult to comprehend this disease, for there are no true physical evidences that can pinpoint its terrible effects. And yet, everyday I witness the struggle amongst the adolescents that walk through Visions Adolescent Treatment Center. These young adults have, at times spent most of their lives being addicts and not knowing that it is affecting their dreams. For most of them, they have no idea what their dreams are even made of. Upon entering this treatment center, they are faced with answering questions that puts into perspective their unhealthy belief system. This is one of the most heart-breaking and rewarding parts of this job. It is a challenge to watch these kids break down and cry and slowly try to put themselves back together. The only thing one can do is be there for them and guide them through their true self-discovery.
I have now the title of an educator at Visions. This position entails the responsibility of inspiring the residents to include their education as part of that foundation that they are rebuilding. It is difficult at times. Amongst the insurmountable assortments of character defects and psychological behaviors that they are facing, the last thing on their mind seems to be education. And yet, somehow I have to install in them the understanding that obtaining an education is in a way gaining freedom from our own formless and bored mind. Which at times is what steers so many of these young adults into drugs and alcohol. It is not an easy task, although the attempt has been the one thing that has kept me going.
With time passing, within the required stay of 45 days minimum, some residents realize the depths of their addiction; some understand the sadness of letting go of their drug of choice, which to them is their love at the time. There are also the ones that discover the gift of learning who they truly are and how to learn to be ok with who they are.
Working here has allowed me the opportunity to reiterate how I confront challenges in life through love, honesty, patience and forgiveness. It is reminding the kids that we do not know how to live life at times, but what makes it ok not to know is the wisdom we gain from our mistakes, our defeats and our own accomplishments. At last in my understanding, addiction needs not to be only with drugs and alcohol but the distorted mind process that inhabits the crevices of our thought process.