If you do a small survey of people close to you, asking “what do you think of addicts?” or “What are addictions for you?” You will be amazed at the answers you will hear. The most common are usually: Addicts are those who live on the street and inject themselves; addicts are people who do not have willpower; they are those people that you see lying on a corner dirty and ragged, or that is just a vice that they don’t know how to control. These definitions reflect apathy, stigma, prejudices, and a great ignorance about what addictions are and what the individuals suffering from this terrible, chronic, progressive, irreversible, and fatal disease suffer.
We saw one of these examples in the tragic life of the singer, Amy Winehouse, who, like many others, suffered in silence and oblivion as a victim of addiction. Addictions are a very complex disease that affects not only the individual but also all those close to them. On this list of affected people, we can include parents, spouses, kids, grandparents, uncles, friends, bosses and coworkers. For each individual who suffers from an addiction, it’s estimated that the number of directly affected reaches eight people.
We must ask ourselves about the stigma, apathy, and ignorance that we have around addictions. In simple terms, we can define addiction as the continuous use, conscious or unconscious, of some external stimulus, substance or activity, in search of a feeling of pleasure and escape from pain or reality.
Using this definition, we can see that the range of substances and activities that fall within these parameters is immense, from alcohol to heroin, from investments in the stock market to video games, from food and shopping to relationships with others, among many others.
If we explore the reasons that lead us to remain ignorant, we may find that the subject generates some anxiety. If we add to this the social and cultural stigmas that surround additions, we will find a phenomenon called denial. Exploring and learning about this disease can lead us to recognize in ourselves, or in a loved one, the reality of a present addition. This reality can be very painful and lead us to a dilemma; confront it and face the pain and consequences or protect us, evade, and escape. Whatever the reaction, we must remember that the disease of addiction continues its fatal progression unless it is confronted and faced.
Those who suffer from addictions are individuals in great suffering. They’re victims of a disease that gradually robs them of any measure of dignity, integrity, and values they possess. It turns them into strangers both to themselves and to other people. It isolates and alienates them, leading them even to wish and seek death as a way out of the hell in which they live.
Informing yourself will give you the tools you need to fight firmly against this subtle but deadly disease. If you think that you or someone close to you suffers from an addiction, remember that there are professional addiction rehab centers that can help. In short, take action if your life or the life of someone you love is at stake.