Addiction is an Equal Opportunity Disease

flower-and-rocks*This blog was written by a man who completed 30 days of inpatient treatment over the summer of 2019. He wanted to share how those few weeks dramatically changed his life. 

I recently spent 30 days at Cumberland Heights in the men’s program. I’d never been to a recovery facility like Cumberland. Cumberland Heights changed my life, opened my eyes and changed my worldview. That sounds like a great advertisement or sound bite for Cumberland, but every single word of that sentence is significant for me. I’m not usually one to make profound statements and even leery of those who do. But I am blessed to be progressing in my recovery and that is the result of my time at Cumberland and the people who show up to do God’s work there.

A small sign hung in an office that read ‘Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are.’ I learned a lot from that sign. And still am.

I was told the day I got there I didn’t look like I belonged in treatment. Seemed like an odd thing to say, especially given the circumstances, but I didn’t think too much of it. Later I thought about it a lot and found myself judging people I saw and spoke to without even realizing I was doing it. Most of us do it all day every day; in airports, at work and certainly on social media.

In my own shallow judgment and I suspect the judgment of most, my roommate ‘looked like he belonged there.’

Here’s one way to describe my roommate:

A repeat offender who couldn’t keep a job because of multiple failed drug tests. Big boots. Baggy jeans. A self-described meth head. An ex-con who lost his kids to the Department of Children’s Services. A convicted drug manufacturer with ‘jail house’ tattoos who had killed a man…albeit accidental and not drug-related.

Here’s how I came to describe my roommate:

A loving father of two young boys. A proud son and grandson who worked multiple construction jobs and long hours to provide for his family. A man who had pictures of his boys covering all the walls and furniture. A man who got up every morning and prayed. A man who sobbed lying in his bed because his youngest son fell and hurt his leg and he couldn’t be there to console him. One of the kindest and most humble men I’ve ever met. Someone I cried with. And someone I’m proud to call my friend.

Both descriptions are factual. There’s plenty of coffee mug and bumper sticker fodder cautioning on judging others and changing one’s perspective. Some scripture comes to mind as well. I can’t be reminded enough to pause and take a step back. Since I left Cumberland Heights I am still far from perfect, but it’s improved the quality of my life in so many ways. One is simply to challenge myself every day and multiple times throughout each day to be unassuming. It’s tough. Try not knowing what you think you know about someone or something. At least for me, it’s been refreshing, uplifting and a better way to navigate a day.

I still think about that sign and the other countless experiences that were put in my path while at Cumberland Heights. And I truly am grateful for all of them.