Despite the widespread education and awareness programs nationwide, many people still believe addiction is an issue of “mind over matter.” They don’t know and don’t want to know what addiction feels like. Naturally, some non-addicts hold themselves up as superior because they’ve managed to avoid drug or alcohol abuse. But, they need to know that given the right substance under the right conditions and anyone can become addicted. Some of today’s drugs have the power to inflict addiction after only one use. With the proper education about the issue, non-addicts could understand what addiction looks like from the affected person’s viewpoint.
Unfortunately, people who have an addict in their lives will still hold to the opinion that the addict is of weak character and has little willpower. What will it take to make non-addicts change their viewpoint on the subject? Watching a person go through heroin withdrawals might be one way to begin. But, that’s not a feasible approach. Another approach could be to compare what addiction looks like to a non-addict with what it looks like from an addict’s point of view. Let’s explore that premise.
What Addiction Looks Like to a Non-Addict
Americans have many misconceptions about addiction. The stigma is rooted in unfounded myths and prejudices. Here are some examples of how addiction looks to many non-addicts.
Notice the contradictions in their thought processes:
- Young people think of their favorite celebrities who are well-known for their substance abuse and see the behavior as glamorous.
- Adults are also guilty of idolizing the rich and famous who are blatantly honest about their recreational drug use and think, “That’s just what famous people do.”
- The family member, friend, or neighbor who has a medicine cabinet full of prescription pills is justified because they are only doing what the doctor tells them. “They need all that medicine because the doctor said so.”
- “Addicts are homeless, dirty, uneducated bums who hide under bridges and in back alleys. They’re lazy and don’t want to work or accept responsibility.”
- “An addict could quit if they had enough willpower. They choose to continue the drug use.”
The contradicting opinions on drug abuse indicate that society often accepts the behavior if it’s someone they look up to or someone who is influential and financially sound. But, if a poor person has a drug problem, they are scorned and ridiculed.
From an Addict’s Viewpoint
Once upon a time, an addict was a non-addict who probably held the same opinions shown above. But, he or she made a bad choice and decided to experiment with an addictive substance. Like many people, they thought they would try it once and be done with it. For many of these individuals, from that point, their lives changed in ways they would never have imagined. Now they know what addiction looks like.
They didn’t consciously choose to experience these things:
- Making up lies and stealing to support their habit.
- Feeling guilt or shame about their sneaky, lying behavior.
- Losing the ability to feel guilt or shame about their behavior.
- Frustration over not being able to quit the substance.
- A sense of hopelessness after losing a job or home because of their drug use.
- Feeling isolated from or shunned by friends and family.
- Overwhelming anxiety and fear.
- Declining physical and mental health.
- Constant panic over not being able to obtain their drug of choice.
- Misery from withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not available.
- The monotony of doing the same thing every day and having no power to stop it.
- Unable to face the fact that these things would not have happened if drugs weren’t involved.
Going from non-addict to addict is a journey no one deliberately chooses. Lack of education about the dangers could be one reason for trying drugs. Peer pressure, low self-esteem, family history of addictions, depression, or health problems are also contributing factors. Regardless of the reasons a person became an addict, they need professional treatment.
What Addiction Looks Like to Treatment Providers
At Awakenings Rehabilitation, we know that addiction is a symptom of underlying problems that the drug is being used to cover up. For that reason, successfully treating an addiction involves a multidisciplinary approach that addresses the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects involved. We provide a comprehensive addiction treatment program includes a variety of methodologies to address all aspects of the disorder.
The best way to prevent more addictions is through intensive education and awareness campaigns. We can help those already addicted by reversing the stigma and become a part of the solution.
If you need more information about what addiction looks like, contact us today. We know first-hand what an addict goes through. We also have the expertise to help them recover so they’ll never have to feel that way again.