He came creeping into our lives, slowly, stealthily, insidiously, with no advance warning. No triumphal heraldry alerting us to his imminent arrival. No fanfare. No clues. Okay, well maybe there were some subtle clues but we were too busy with our perfect little lives to pay much notice to them.
He counted on that! He thrives on secrecy and subterfuge. He knew that if he alerted us to his presence we would call on all our resources and strengths to defeat him, to slay him, to banish him from our lives and yes, from the very earth where he lives and thrives, and grows more menacing and powerful with each passing day.
He counts on society’s lackadaisical attitude toward him, believing that he cannot sneak into their homes. He depends on us ignoring his presence or believing that he lives on the other side of the tracks, surely not in our ideal communities.
He knew we would divest ourselves of every penny we had to expose him, to cripple him and kill him, that we would do anything within our power to stop his onslaught.
He attacks the most vulnerable of our society: our children. He preys on them, luring them into his grasp with promises of ecstasy and escape from their humdrum lives, while parents go blithely about their daily routine, unaware of the chaos, heartbreak and destruction of the family unit that awaits them.
He is the most hideous of all monsters, yet he exhibits no external evidence of his cruelty, no demonic horns on his head, no red flashing eyes, no mien any different from anyone else’s in the communities where he plies his vicious trade. He shows us nothing to forewarn us of the monumental destruction of which he is so capable of inflicting upon us, and in which he takes such absolute delight.
No, he is far too clever to expose himself, to let us see him for what he truly is until it is too late, until he has consumed us all and engulfed us in his wickedness and destroyed our once peaceful lives.
He takes our children’s and the parents’ present and future. He destroys our communities. He robs us of our money and jobs. He steals our self-esteem and dignity. He keeps us on a rollercoaster of emotions, of hope and fear.
He is the Addiction Monster! And he comes in many forms. He befriends our children slowly and carefully, enticing them with empty promises of exciting highs. He depends on children’s sense of invincibility and belief in their own immortality.
The Addiction Monster is an equal opportunity destroyer of lives. And not just the addicted people’s lives. But the lives of everyone with whom he is intertwined, be it parents, spouse, children, siblings, friends, relatives or co-workers. Nobody is immune.
Nobody can escape the tentacles of the Addiction Monster. Like an octopus it wraps its deadly arms around us and consumes us all, either wittingly or unwittingly.
Children from the right side of the tracks can be derailed by drugs. It happens all the time. The stereotypical image of the dysfunctional drug addict cloaked in the darkness of despair on the streets, quickly gives way to the boy and girl next door, the athlete, the musician, the smart kids, the good kids. These are your kids. These are my kids. These are everybody’s kids. And they’re dying in unprecedented numbers leaving sorrow and mass destruction in their wake.
Parents are not supposed to survive their children. It is not the natural order of things, but life takes strange and twisting turns along its path like a maze that we enter and have no idea where the end is or how to get there unscathed.
Many children succumb to the charms of the Addiction Monster because there is something lacking within them. Some have very low levels of dopamine, the “feel good” property of our brain. Some shake hands with the Addiction Monster because they think it’s cool or because their friends entice them into doing so.
But nobody welcomes the Addiction Monster into their life knowing how cruel and deadly this master is. Nobody thinks they will become addicted. Nobody wakes up one day and decides to be an addict. Who in their right mind would do that? The Addiction Monster just smiles and adds another name to his list of victims, nay, for each addicted person, he also adds the names of those other unwilling victims.
Nancy Reagan almost had it right with her “Just Say No” campaign during her husband, Ronnie Reagan’s presidency. A better mantra would have been “Just Say Know.” Know what the Addiction Monster is really like. Know the havoc that he wreaks in everybody’s lives. Know how he will enslave you, daring you to escape his death grip on you and laughing at each feeble attempt you make to free yourself from his chokehold.