Chris Christie has the support of someone near and dear to all our Facebook accounts. Or at least on one issue, he does. “This is an important message. Extremely well said, and thank you for focusing on this,” Mark Zuckerberg posted on the Huffington Post’s Facebook page this afternoon. The subject of his praise was a week-old video of the New Jersey governor and Republican presidential candidate discussing the way American society demonizes those who are addicted to drugs. Christie shared his own personal connection to addiction. “My mother was a smoker. She was a smoker her whole life, she was addicted to nicotine,” he begins. “She started when she was 16 years old, which was 1948. But by the time 1964 came, the Surgeon General’s report came out and she was in her mid-thirties, she knew that smoking was bad for you. I watched her as a kid growing up, she tried everything she could to quit.” Christie detailed his mother’s many failed attempts to quit, and the myriad of methods she tried. And then came the heartbreaking result of her struggle: her diagnosis of lung cancer in her seventies, caused by a lifetime of smoking. “No one came to me and said, ‘Don’t treat her, because she got what we deserved,’” Christie said with a scowl, shaking his head. “No one said that about someone who had cancer. And yet somehow, if it’s heroin, or cocaine, or alcohol, we say, ‘They decided it, they’re getting what they deserved.’”
It’s an excellent point. It’s called “addiction,” after all, because substances — including heroin, yes, but also more commonplace ones, like alcohol and even caffeine — create physical dependencies in their users that can lead to a need as strong as that for food or water. Some addictions, such as alcohol, can even kill addicts who try to quit.