“We admitted we were powerless…”
There are many films whose plots surround the nightmarish physical conditions of substance abuse and addiction. Every one of these pictures base themselves in varying degrees of realism and dramatic effect, of eras past to present, fiction or nonfiction. In the classic 1962 black and white romance drama The Days of Wine and Roses, rising public relations executive Jack Lemmon risks his family and sanity as he battles his terminal alcoholism. In his striking performance as real-life basketball prodigy Jim Caroll, Leonardo DiCaprio’s struggle with heroin is a haunting, heartbreaking cautionary tale in 1995’s The Basketball Diaries. Following the fatal drug overdose of his friend, world-renowned pop singer Amy Winehouse, comedian Russel Brand puts asides his signature home to poignantly reminisce about his own substance abuse while analyzing the process towards addiction treatment in the fascinating documentary Russell Brand - From Addiction to Recovery in 2012.
Despite the wildly different approaches to storytelling, each of these cinematic examples have one thing in common: they all depict their cast of characters not just conquering their personal demons, but admitting they had demons in the first place. In significant parts of the films’ timelines, the characters are shown confessing their addictions to everyone around them - including us, the movie audience - thus paving their own way to sobriety despite the roadblocks ahead of them. The same goes for reality: admitting one’s addiction is crucial to their recovery journey. For many addicts, that may not be as easy as it sounds. Yet overcoming that sense of denial is absolutely essential in the process of slaying said demons. The good folks at Alcoholics Anonymous made this the first step of their time-honored 12 Steps: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.”
The Social Stigma of Addiction
Addiction, no matter the size or condition status, is an unfortunate fact of life. Countless people suffer from this disease, but they don’t have to suffer from it alone. The condition of addiction can be prevented or fully eradicated through proper medical approach and positive assistance from friends, family, and the addicts themselves via self-discipline (e.g. admitting one’s own problems). As the classic saying goes, “When there’s a will, there’s a way.”
However, there is a very real harmful phenomenon in our contemporary society that can negatively impact those suffering from addiction. It is a tangible social negativity commonly referred to as “stigma.” According to www.drugabuse.gov, stigma is defined as “a set of negative beliefs that a group or society holds about a topic or group of people.” As further specified by the World Health Organization (WHO), “stigma is a major cause of discrimination and exclusion and it contributes to the abuse of human rights.” To many addicts, it goes without saying that this type of aggressive prejudice to their plight is but another obstacle to their recovery.
But why? Why the negative perceptions? Why is there a social taboo permeating against addicts, rather than a far-reaching rally of support that would help them conquer their struggles?
The Tigger House Foundation’s Journey
These “whys” are part of the large objective brought upon by such organizations as Tigger House Foundation (THF). THF has dedicated itself in educating and providing awareness towards the dangers of opiate addiction. Through their hospital programs such as TARP, as well as their youth-based Ambassadors program, THF works to assist all addicts take all necessary steps in seeking proper medical treatment for themselves, and advocating positive educational reinforcement to completely eradicate all negative society stigmas against addiction.
The catalyst behind THF’s inception came in the form of personal tragedy. The founders of THF, the Stavola Family of Monmouth County, New Jersey, were rocked by the sudden death of their son, Ricky “Tigger” Stavola. Tigger was only 25 years old when he passed away from an accidental drug overdose. The Stavola Family continues their fight in assisting others in their journeys for recovery, in Tigger’s memory.
If you, or someone you know, is suffering from addiction, please explore our website, www.tiggerhouse.org, and explore our channels to get the help you need today.