10 Things That Make You Sound Dumb When You Talk About Addiction
When I started working my way into writing about addiction, I can’t say I knew very much about it. And that’s a problem: many people don’t know the first thing about addiction outside of the stigma we’ve grown up accepting as truth.
To do my job well I had to research, a lot, about addiction. I was opened up to new things about the disease I never knew. Why the heck wasn’t I taught this in school? So many of my peers may be walking different roads today if they were armed with knowledge.
In my newfound love for everything addiction and recovery, I was eager to hear my loved one’s opinions on the subject, and to tell them what I have learned to be the genuine truth behind the disease.
I was sorely disappointed.
It turned out they didn’t know anything either. Some of them were uncharacteristically cruel in their regard to people with substance use disorders. I firmly believe this is a product of our society and skewed perception of addiction.
As I started to share my views and opinions about addiction, and as I began publishing articles on the subject, I discovered something– something I’d rather not acknowledge:
My friends are dumb. Really, really dumb.
And they don’t even know it- and they certainly don’t want to listen or hear about why. So I’ll just set this here for my friends- and maybe some of yours too.
1. “Addiction Is a Choice.”
I love it when my “science-y” friends wing this one at me– not. There are innumerable studies irrefutably proving addiction as a physical and psychological disease. Get over it people. You think you’d be happy there’s an explanation for the crazy crap that happens to people struggling with addiction.
Where’s your sense of compassion?
Addiction is not a choice. Factors precipitating the disease include genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and insufficient life skills to cope with life’s many travails. Some people pick up cookies when they’re frustrated, others find addictive substances.
If your mom keeps cookies in the house, you’re going to eat those. If your mom is a frequent drug user, you’ll probably pick up her habit. But somehow critics forget addiction is a desperate attempt to escape depression, self hate, anxiety, and every other ill emotion under the sun.
Read up a bit, and then come talk to me.
2. “They Can Stop Whenever They Want.”
No, no, no. Did you know addictive substances perverse the brain and physical body to the point one cannot function without their substance of choice? They cannot simply stop. Can you imagine living with the worst cold or case of strep throat you’ve ever had? You took medicine right, to make the symptoms go away so you could get on with your day?
Unfortunately these substances serve as a bandage to prevent the symptoms of withdrawal. There is no easy way to explain addiction, because it is an aggressive disease. And for some reason, we have decided- as a society- to emotionally charge ourselves against those suffering from it.
Stop saying this, please.
Reading is your friend.
3. “Junkies Are Useless.”
Yes, I’ve actually heard this one. People who are addicted are just like you and I, with ambitions, dreams, and personal desires. Are you useless because after a breakup of five years you fall into a deep depression?
People with substance use disorders are in that same state- but they express their sorrows differently. Those with chronic addiction are not enjoying their time as “addicts;” many are keenly aware of their state and are unable to harness the resources necessary to help sunder the disease.
Running around with this notion in your head will only continue to make you bitter and heartless towards those who need compassion and understanding the most. If addiction makes you uncomfortable, why don’t you help create a community and political environment to ensure no one has to suffer from it?
4. “We Should Just Kill Them, They’re Going to Die Anyway.”
As you can imagine, I no longer speak to this person. If you want to be regarded as the scum of the Earth, please do continue spewing this nonsense so everyone around you knows to stay far, far away.
The face of addiction does not manifest in any one spectrum of being. Business people, the rich, poor, impoverished, the famous, everyone suffers from addiction. Robert Downey Jr.’s life shouldn’t mean more than the addict who is “less pretty” or successful.
In short, I’m sorry to say, but you are probably an irrevocable idiot.
5. “They’re Doing This to Themselves.”
This goes back to our discussion about the disease of addiction and the source of addiction altogether. No, people don’t just choose to remain addicts. Their biology does.
6. “I Never Used a Drug.”
But that doesn’t mean other people haven’t. There’s a notion for this type of thinking, it’s called “a fallacy of shoulds,” wherein the holier-than-thou hooligan asserts his otherworldly divinity onto everyone around him. “They should be like me,” or “They should have done this.”
This line of thinking limits one’s ability to widen their perspectives to understand why others act the way they do. In terms of developing empathy, this ability is also stifled in this way of thinking. If you cannot step into the shoes of others, without the ability to abate your own thoughts for a few minutes, you will never understand what it means to be helplessly addicted.
7. “The Only Thing They Care About Is Themselves.”
Actually, friend, people with substance abuse disorders often hate themselves the most. Countless are riddled with guilt over their addictions, but do not know how to get the help they need- or are financially unable to. Many are without the faintest inkling of where to start.
So actually “drug addicts” care about themselves the least- and will allow their life circumstances to deteriorate completely.
8. “I Don’t Want Addicts in My Neighborhood.”
Well I don’t want you in my neighborhood.
You’d be surprised addiction lies behind pretty faces all the time. Your perception of the disease is severely lacking if you think this. Addiction’s faces are many, and are far beyond the common perception of “the street addict.”
9. “You’re Not Really An Addict.”
No, they’re just pretending- and they’re having so much fun!
10. “They’re Just Going to Keep Using.”
Millions of people have successfully recovered from addiction- why are you so quick to assume everyone ever won’t overcome their addictions? And guess what, if you were more helpful and supportive, maybe one more person in you life or community would be motivated to keep trying. Like anything else, breaking a habit spurred by addiction takes a lifetime to work on.
When were you going to start exercising again?
16 Myths About Addiction
About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.