A #bekindr story submitted by Dr. Shirley Press, a board-certified pediatric emergency medicine physician & writer. When it comes to drug addiction, kindness can often be the most powerful cure.

My son Gershon has struggled with drug addiction since he was 19 years old. He is now 31. This is not only his struggle but it is our family’s struggle too. It has opened my eyes to this plight that is all too common. It has also changed the way that I view drug addiction.

I used to feel that it was the user’s fault. It was just a matter of self-control. WRONG IN EVERY SENSE. It is a disease, and blaming the sufferer is completely wrong. Moreover, my son’s gritty world is also an eye opener. I’ve met all kinds of people I would have never met in my life if not for him. Good and bad.

One person in particular comes to mind. In October a few years ago, Gershon was arrested for possession of crack (the charges were later dropped.) He was living in a halfway house after spending five and a half weeks in jail. For him, this was relative freedom before he was to enter a rehab facility. Gershon has self-destructive tendencies and at the last minute, he gives up on things. On the day he was supposed to be transferred to rehab, I awoke early that morning to pick him up and drive him to the spot where the rehab van would be waiting.  I feared that he would never get into the van that was picking him up.

The van stop was ten minutes away from the halfway house. To my surprise, Gershon was ready. We were carrying his bags to the car when he told me that he had to make yet another trip back to the room to pick up his radio. I said, “No, just leave it,” for fear that he would bolt. My heart sank. I feared that this procrastination signaled he had no intention of going to rehab. I panicked.

I told his roommate, a guy in his thirties, that Gershon was self-defeating again. I was afraid of what was going to happen next. Gershon had purposely left his radio in his room. He finished placing his stuff in the car and was about to return to his room when his roommate greeted him with the radio. Having no other choice, Gershon got into the car and we sped away. With tears in my eyes, I mouthed, “Thank you.”

The guy had been in Gershon’s shoes and truly was trying to help my son avoid his own path. Gershon made it to rehab.

This was the kind gift of the roommate.