Kim Manlove can speak about addiction and recovery from both sides of the issue - as a parent of an addicted son who unfortunately died from his disease, and also as a person in long term recovery. We are pleased to welcome Kim to the MHAI family as the Director of the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition and look forward to seeing all of the great work he will do! The following is a letter he wrote to the Indianapolis Star in response to Jim Irsay's arrest for substance abuse.
"Drug Addiction is a Disease, Not A Moral Failing"
I write to applaud Bob Kravitz for his March 17 column, “Jim Irsay is fighting for his life, he needs help.” It is one of the few pieces I have seen in the blizzard of articles and media reports that contain compassion and concern.
Despite the fact that the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a “chronic, relapsing brain disease,” the public and popular media still represent addiction as a moral failing. Addicts and alcoholics often continue to be regarded with disapproval or disdain, and celebrities like Irsay who have addiction issues are exploited and hounded. These attitudes are vestiges of the “War on Drugs” era, which indelibly etched into the public mind that most drug and alcohol abusers were exhibiting criminal behavior.
Recovery from addiction is a reality for millions of Americans who, like me, struggled for many years with substance abuse and are taking the first step — deciding to get help. Some of us get that help from our friends and families while others get the “nudge from the judge.” But, regardless, recovery from addiction means embracing a new perspective. When we are early in recovery many of us struggle with the fear that recovery isn’t for us. Many are not initially willing to give up old behaviors and rationalize that things weren’t that bad. It takes many in early recovery a long time to see that the perspective we were choosing wasn’t one of hope. But once we can gain that new perspective we begin to realize that embracing hope in recovery can come from not only taking things one day at a time, but surrounding ourselves with a recovery support system of family and friends.
Organizations like the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition can provide much-needed support to those early in recovery through education, advocacy and service.
Recovery is our hope and wish for Irsay as well as the promise we will always be there to embrace him and others who reach out for help.