Peter 'Fish' Case: Conversation on addiction continues Wednesday

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Sometimes listening to people's problems is not a convenient thing. Sometimes we lack the general understanding and patience to slog through someone's truth without judgement. More often than not, if we've lived what we consider to be our best lives we can't understand what it would take for someone else to be knocked from that path. Plain and simple, other people's problems are often problematic and frankly irritating to those who've never experienced something that derailed us and sent us down a path of despair. Yeah, those people make us mad, those people are nothing short of inconvenient.

We as a society like to judge, we like to take other people's problems and look through that lens that allows us to create a better life for ourselves. It happens over and over again. I've heard it a hundred times: someone in recovery says they are celebrating X amount of years of sobriety; without fail I'll hear someone who has never had an issue ask where their coin is, where is their token for being a lifelong good and sober person. But unfortunately, it doesn't work like that, it simply doesn't.

There was a time in my life where I would have been that person that asked for his recognition. You see, I've got what they call an obsessive-compulsive personality, meaning that I likely meet all the benchmarks for becoming addicted to something. I'm a former smoker, I used to smoke four packs a day. I used to keep a carton of smokes in my car at all times; the absolute thought of running out scared me. I quit 30 years ago, and when I tell people they often say, "Good for you! You feel better, don't you?" Well, I guess I do, but I only bring it up as a means to prove my point, I always had to walk away from addictive behaviors. But what if something was thrown in my path like an injury so debilitating that I was forced to take pain killers to function? Maybe I lost my job suddenly and was unable to find employment and it put me on the street. Just about anything could have happened that could have sent me down a different path.

It didn't, but that doesn't mean that I get to draw down judgement against those that may have suffered those types of situations. It's been six weeks since over 100 people came together to have a conversation and an open public forum on the opioid epidemic — how the first responders deal with it, how our hospitals deal with it, how our services deal with it. But in order to deal with it, in order to fix it, we need to understand it. Frankly we need to walk a mile in the shoes of someone who has fought the fight and figured out how to win.

That conversation will continue Wednesday night at the Next Stage Theater in Putney at 7 p.m. Fables is a storytelling series that happens on the second Wednesday of every month. On Wednesday, four stories will be told of coming back from the razor's edge and living a life that stays on the straight and narrow. After these stories are shared, we will open it up to questions. Questions that will help us all understand that this is actually a disease that is no different from Crohn's disease, cancer, MS, diabetes, COPD, congestive heart failure and so on. Nobody wakes up and says, "I want to be an addict, I want to be addicted to something so much that it controls me." Just like that same person doesn't wake up hoping for diabetes. It just doesn't work that way; do you get mad at someone with cancer or COPD? I'm guessing probably not.

So, if you have the time, come to the Next Stage Theater in Putney and let's all take a step closer to understanding a little better! See you at 7 p.m.

Peter "Fish" Case is a man with an opinion. He offers up a weekly podcast discussion that can be heard at www.theearspoon.com. Questions, compliments and complaints can be sent to him at fish@theearspoon.com. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.

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