Like many people who are somehow “different” to the way we think members of society should be, those struggling with addictions are subjected to stigmas that can be extremely damaging. Because of these stigmas, people with addictions are at higher-than-average risk of unemployment and homelessness. Their sense of self-worth, which is often low to begin with, takes a dive and they are increasingly unlikely to get the help they need.
It is easy to say that people with addictions have made their own beds and now they must lie in them, but most situations are far more complex than that. Addictions have all kinds of origins – some of the result of poor choices, others are borne of circumstances. Regardless of how an addiction starts, the person suffering from it has a far great chance of overcoming it if the people around him or her are non-judgmental and supportive.
If you remember these facts about addiction, you can help break down the social stigmas and give addicts a better chance at overcoming their challenges and improving their lives:
- Addiction is a disease. People suffering from it do not have control over their cravings. Those who do try to quit often experience such frightening withdrawal symptoms that they don’t feel that they can survive without taking the drugs or alcohol.
- People are separate from their addictions. The addictions can make them behave in ways that appear to be selfish, aggressive or irresponsible. But those are symptoms of the addiction – it does not mean that the person is innately selfish, aggressive or irresponsible.
- Most addictions have a backstory. Some addicts were bullied as teens. Others were childhood victims of sexual molestation. There are veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mothers with post-partum depression, people with mental illnesses, and many other people whose addictions have a root cause.
- Some people are born with a genetic predisposition for addiction. They have a natural disadvantage when it comes to coping with stress or conflict in their lives.
- The cycle of addiction can be passed from one generation to the next. Children who are raised in a home with parents who are addicts have a far greater likelihood of becoming addicts themselves. If the parents are given help, the benefits to younger generations can be immediate.
Most people are inherently good, and that includes those who suffer from addictions. Addicts are human beings, and like anyone else they deserve the opportunity to turn their lives into something positive. Many people who recover from addictions go on to accomplish remarkable things. They just need a helping hand and some supportiveness along the way.