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Damaged Spirits is a collection of short vignettes that reflect the impact addiction yields to individuals, families, communities and society; and the realization that addiction affects everyone. Addiction does not discriminate and it is disease of excess. Unlike any other disease addictions continue to be stigmatized, scrutinized and negatively judged by society.
The reaction of family and friends to a diagnosis of a loved one being an addict brings mixed reactions. They are often mortified at the prospect of a loved one being an addict and initially feel embarrassed, humiliated and dishonored. Emotions run the course of denial, blame and justification. People tend to look more favorably on a mental health diagnosis than one of addiction because of the negative stigma attached to addiction.. The image of the stereotypical addict, living in squalor, toothless and bone thin, further alienates and complicates the possibility of treatment and ultimately the addict’s recovery. We, society, “prefer” to believe that addicts look, act and live a specific way so we can safely separate ourselves from them.
The reality is addiction is everywhere. Big cities and country farms; board rooms, dorm rooms, and dining rooms around the world play host to addiction “Good” families and “Bad “ families, young children and older adults, rich and poor, can experience addiction. Addiction has no regard for age or gender, race or religion. No one is immune to its impact. Addicts can have jobs, bank accounts, mortgages and teeth. The tangible damage varies but the pain to ones spirit is the same.
These stories are real. The twentieth century writer, Martha Gelhorn once stated “cast your characters as fiction because the way you make the facts come alive is by showing there effects on people through stories and characters that are so closely modeled on real people that for all purposes are real.” My purpose in creating these vignettes is to make the reader aware of addiction as a real and recoverable condition if recognized and treated appropriately. Each story is a testimony to the fall-out from addiction – rewarding, challenging, often times disappointing. This book is for the addict who has yet to admit their problem or someone who has admitted a problem but feels alone and unique. This book is for the family members who want to better understand addiction and be aware of the mindset of the addict.
This book is for professionals in related fields such as medical, mental, and public health sectors. People working with criminal justice and legal clients; the educational realm as well as scholarly domains can benefit from these vignettes, and anyone who inadvertently work with addicts or just enjoys short stories based on real life experiences.
May these portraits enhance your intellectual perception of all addicts.
Jennifer Lively grew up and went to school in Bergen County New Jersey. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fairleigh Dickensen University and moved to rural Northeast Pennsylvania where she had spent summers vacationing with her mother’s family. After graduating from college and having had an interest in wines and spirits she found success working as a wine and spirits marketing representative. Eventually she became disillusioned with the direction liquor marketing had taken, and having had an “aaah haaa” moment during the tragic days of 9-11, she decided to leave the liquor industry and return to school; making an about face in her career and life work. Instead of promoting consumption of alcohol she would now promote recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. Now focused on a new career, she received her Master’s of Education, focusing on addictions, from Penn State University and has worked in the addictions field ever since. Jenn has been a counselor at several different venues of addiction care and most recently has been the clinical director of a private non-profit outpatient drug and alcohol facility. In addition to her degrees, Jenn has many state and national addictions certifications and is a speaker and lecturer for several continuing education trainings.
Jenn’s love of literature and for reading inspired her to write this book. Damaged Spirits is a collection of vignettes which illustrate the hope, despair, and challenges anyone addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling face. Working with an assortment of clientele ranging from the very wealthy to the very poor made it very clear that addiction does not discriminate. Jenn found that when counseling the family and friends of an addict it became apparent that social stereotypes still exist – especially when it came to addictions. Jenn wanted a user friendly way for families to learn about addiction without text book definitions. This collection of stories was created to exemplify an assortment of everyday real people, with real addiction issues, who face the challenges of addiction and recovery.
Jenn continues to live in Northeast Pennsylvania on her farmette with her family and assorted pets and livestock. She continues to counsel clients and supervise clinicians at an outpatient drug and alcohol facility as well as counsel groups and individuals at the county correctional facility.