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The It’s a Choice School of Thought Actually Perpetuates Alcohol Addiction In Our Society!

I watched my beautiful, extremely intelligent, loving 26-year old daughter, Brittany Hallett, die from alcohol addiction….I’ve witnessed the power of addiction up close and very personal…..My daughter was a good person who certainly did not deserve to die.

The “It’s a Choice!” school of thought actually perpetuates addiction in our society. People hear that addiction is a choice, which implies that they will be in control of choosing when they want to stop. This flawed way of thinking is how so many millions of people all over the world get hooked on different substances every single day. Sure, the first time they consume a drug, including the legal drug of alcohol, was a choice to take that first pill or drink, but they mistakenly assume that they will know when to stop before becoming addicted. They truly believe that they are smart enough to be able to stop whenever they “choose” to. It’s only after they’ve become addicted that they finally realize that it isn’t “a choice” from that day forward. People who believe that it remains a choice, are probably the most vulnerable to fall victim to the disease of addiction. In the history of mankind, no one ever believed that they themselves would ever become addicted to anything….no one would ever choose to live their lives in that hellish agony that could and very often times does take their very life away from them.

Sure… that first time or two consuming their substance of choice, was a choice. Maybe they were drinking alcohol with their friends and family just as millions of people do every day. Not everyone becomes addicted, but there is no formula to predict who will become addicted or when. People often start for emotional reasons to reduce stress, to alleviate depression or to just simply “not feel” their strain from their personal problems….which society has deemed normal to do. Or maybe they get prescribed a pain-killer for a legitimate injury and accidentally become addicted to it through no fault of their own. This can also lead to illegal drugs such as heroin when the doctor cuts them off from their addictive pain killers. Once addicted, the overwhelming urge to have more can become even stronger than self-preservation. If they can’t get their drug from their doctor anymore, they often times will resort to finding a cheaper and more accessible illegal drug to temporarily relieve their withdrawals and urges.

Even those that make that first choice to use an illegal drug before they’ve already become addicted, that choice can quickly spiral into not being able to choose to stop anymore. Many people make a bad choice to take that first pill or to drink that first alcoholic drink for a variety of possible reasons that usually stems from emotional feelings. Maybe they give in to peer-pressure because they just want to fit in. Maybe they feel that they need something to help “loosen them up” because they are introverted or shy, so they try it so they can find a way to fit in. Maybe they are dealing with extreme stressors that are overwhelming to them. Or maybe they are dealing with sadness, depression or anxiety that they find can be temporarily relieved by taking a pill or drinking alcohol. Or maybe they just simply like the temporary “happy” feeling they get from partying with others who also have been taking drugs or alcohol. Whatever got them started….even if it was a bad initial choice to experiment with something new…..who among us has never made a bad choice in our lives! Do they really deserve to die, because of that naive choice they once made!

Once the addiction kicks in, it truly is no longer “just a choice” to stop. Sure….it does take extreme will-power to be able to overcome the powerful urges of addiction, but that is not just a simple choice to stop consuming. It is a life-long powerful struggle that will be with them for the rest of their life. Even decades later, they can still fall victim to succumbing to the powerful urges that have haunted them for years.

The hateful comments about people addicted to drugs or alcohol that I see so often come from people far worse than the people they profess to hate.

My daughter had insurance that would not get her the long term inpatient treatment that she needed to save her life. If she had had cancer, she might have had a fighting chance.

November 5th was the 3-year anniversary of the day of her death. It feels like yesterday and it feels like hundreds of years ago since we lost my sweet baby girl. I miss her with every single breath I take. Here is a face lost to addiction to alcohol…..She’s not just a statistic…..She was my loving baby girl.

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Multiple OWI’s….What I see!

Whenever a headline tells about someone on their umteenth OWI, the general public sees someone they want to crucify. As the mother of her 26 year old daughter, Brittany Hallett, that died from alcohol addiction….Here’s what I see!

I see a society that promotes alcohol consumption at every single possible life event, from New Year’s Eve parties, to birthday parties, to any sport gathering whether it be live or at someone’s house, to even children’s birthday parties and to funerals. Everyone promotes on their social media account that drinking alcohol will make any event even happier and they also promote that alcohol will cure their anxiety and depression. Even after a long day with the little kids, parents should then kick back and unwind with a glass of wine or a beer. Really!!!!

Society promotes the notion that drinking alcohol is a choice and so most people then believe that they will always be in control of making that choice. They buy into the idea that they will be smart enough to not get hooked or addicted to alcohol, because they are too smart to let that happen. ALL alcoholics bought into that school of thinking before they one day realized that they could not fight the urge to drink anymore. By then it is simply too late.

No one would ever drink alcohol if they knew that they would become addicted to alcohol and spend the rest of their lives in agony being dependent on alcohol just to feel normal again….just to stop the sweats, vomiting, shaking and tremors. Suddenly, the person who used to crucify others for drinking too much and for driving while intoxicated, becomes the one they used to hate. They finally get it…..Sure, drinking alcohol is a choice, but that choice becomes tougher and tougher and the urge to drink becomes stronger than even self-preservation as the disease of alcoholism progresses.

Even social drinkers for many years can still become addicted to alcohol….and once addicted….ALWAYS addicted. But no one ever promotes that on their social media accounts. They never promote that 1 in 12 adults have a drinking problem in the US. They never promote that there are 88,000 alcohol-related deaths every single year in the US. They never promote that 90% of the people who are struggling to survive alcoholism don’t get the treatment they need….usually because of lack of insurance covering the long-term treatment needed or because the alcoholism makes it impossible to hold a job and be covered by any insurance at all. And even when they do qualify for coverage, often times they have to wait weeks for a bed to open up in an inpatient rehab facility. Even if they do get treatment, it usually is just a bandage when a tourniquet was needed to save their life. My own daughter needed long-term inpatient treatment that insurance would not cover. If she would have had cancer, she might have had a fighting chance.

Spewing out that drinking alcohol is always a choice…just promotes more to falsely believe that they will for sure be able to stop whenever they want. It only perpetuates the problem in our society.

So, the next time someone wants to crucify a person who is on their umteenth OWI, take a closer internal look at how we all contribute to this problem. Promote and support our lawmakers to help get more affordable treatment options for the millions of our fellow friends and family who are suffering every single day of their lives just trying to survive. Learn to recognize the signs of someone who is drinking out of control and instead of judging them, try to encourage them to get the help they need.

Obviously, we cannot tolerate having people drinking and driving….no one would ever advocate that. But fining them and throwing them in jail isn’t going to solve the problem. Make it mandatory that they get real treatment that will help them to get into real recovery. And tell our lawmakers to get more affordable treatment options available to people BEFORE they have an OWI. Because the next person that appears in the headlines just might be you or someone you love.