Today I heard several heartbreaking stories from friends and former relatives by marriage. In every case, drugs or alcohol was involved. All the stories ended in death. Each, untimely, and in these cases, medically unnecessary deaths, that left waves of sorrow for families and friends and certainly rippling sadness for all those in the know.

It does no good at this point to say: should have, could have. And when these sick people were suffering, well, how much compassion was offered to the addict/sick person and family? I know of other families who live in fear of that informing phone call. Most of us who have family connections have prayed for one member or another. We give our thanks when our children, brothers, sisters, grandkids, parents, friends make it through challenges of addiction. Some addicts, of course, live and survive, although not well, with addiction throughout their lives.

I personally have only been addicted to coffee and when I gave it up, I had a strong physical reaction that ended in about two weeks. I have no concept of the suffering the addict has in withdrawal and the further loss of the self in continuing with the addiction. Our society is rampant with that kind of suffering. We see no easy solution. Often we just pretend it’s not there, if it’s not affecting our families and friends.

I remind myself that there are many working professionally in the area of addiction and they have had some success. Their efforts are often passionate putting stress on their own lives. Countering their efforts, however, is the greater availability of drugs, both legal and illegal, and the particularly stressful life that we lead today. Personally I believe that prevention is always far less costly than cure. How to prevent addiction is a complex problem. Start with good and stable families, but with a greater than 52% divorce rate; this requires all parties with children to act with compassion towards themselves their ex-spouse and the children. I don’t see an easy solution here. Perhaps our culture could put less value on competitiveness on an individual basis and more emphasis on respect for our fellow travelers in life.

I could go on and on, but again, I have no solution for the whole, but I do have a start for me hoping to make a ripple that when multiplied by others acting, the result could be a wave. A wave of what, you may say? A wave of compassionate care for each other practiced everyday be me and you. Help me try it. I don’t need a sign-on. I don’t need to advertise it. Let’s try to be compassionate to each other even when it appears to be very difficult.

K. B. Pellegrino, Author

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