pages 38-39

   It gets hard to not constantly judge my brother for his actions, even after he's gone. One has a right to, to a certain extent. But then it becomes a matter of what you believe. Do you believe addiction is a disease, like cancer and hemophilia and HIV? Or do you believe addiction is a character flaw, a personal failure, and a crime? It cannot be both. We don't lock people up for getting lung cancer, even if they brought it on themselves for smoking two packs a day for decades. We don't assign community service to people who have spent their entire lives eating nothing but packaged food-product junk who then get diabetes. Why isn't it the same for drug addiction? I hate when I hear older people blame younger generations for the "downward spiral" of America, as if millennials invented OxyContin and run the pharm companies who make it cheaper and cheaper and easier to get ahold of. Reagan's "War on Drugs" was a politician's game designed to never be won, but to keep the people they despise clinging to the lowest rung, their hands crushed under stiff leather shoes of the people climbing over them, not wanting to see, not wanting to take responsibility.
   Sometimes when I talk about my brother's addiction, I see the judgement in people's eyes. They pause awkwardly, buying themselves a few more seconds to come up with something that's not too offensive while still assigning blame to the addict, because by placing blame, they think they are separating themselves from the problem. "That would never happen to me." Maybe not. Maybe you just managed to get to a higher rung.

Here is how Alex put it.

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