Any number of diseases, disorders and other medical maladies may contribute to a person feeling lonely and isolated. Sad and depressed and anxious and frustrated. And scared — absolutely terrified. Cancer for sure. Blindness. Severe burns. Obesity. AIDS. Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia and other ‘mental’ illnesses. Multiple Sclerosis. Assorted debilitating phobias. Amputations and congenital physical deformations. Stomach-related ‘issues’…….and on and on and on…….
The disease of addiction (to drugs/alcohol), however, may be the only medical condition that actually intends to cause a human being to feel lonely and isolated and fearful. The specific aim of addiction — its modus operandus, for lack of a better term — is to totally isolate a person. And then kill the person. Alone in a room — usually a small, unpleasant room.
Addiction, through its cunning and baffling tactics, methodically and progressively sets out to destroy its host. Sometimes quickly, but much more often very slowly and deliberately. Like cancer, addiction is defined by the medical community as a chronic, progressive, relapsing disease with no cure. It is a terminal disease that ultimately results in death — a very painful death. It can be successfully treated and even permanently abated, but only for a relatively small percentage of those truly afflicted with the disease.
Unlike cancer — which left untreated will also completely destroy its human host and result in death — addiction negatively impacts and severely damages anyone and anything related to the afflicted individual. It severs relationships with loved ones. It tears apart families, businesses, and all manner of material property. It warps the lives of children. It results in bankruptcy, loss of certain freedoms and privileges. It is by far the largest contributor to jail and prison populations in Western society. Addiction is at the root of most domestic violence incidents. It leads to endemic levels of suicide. Accidental and fatal overdoses. It often results in the death of innocent ‘bystanders,’ so to speak, in the form of drunk driving accidents, drug deals gone wrong, armed robberies, burglaries and the list goes on.
Addiction is cancer of the soul. And it’s sick and twisted and angry and focused, and it causes much more damage to society than most people could possibly comprehend.
Once the addict has been rendered totally dysfunctional, the disease eats away at the very humanity of the sufferer. It takes away everything about the person that makes the person more than just a physical shell. It eradicates dignity, creativity, compassion, love, sex drive, appetite, intellect and anything else that makes the person a human being. When the addict has lost everything and gets to that point where he or she is holed up in that dark, lonely little room waiting to die, addiction continues to eat at what’s left — it takes away the desire to live in such an impossibly painful state of being. It takes away the soul.