Whether or not you believe it, addiction is a disease. There are ideas surrounding addiction that indicate those affected as weak or immature. Some treat people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol as if they’re dying from a terrible illness. Many addicts have stated their friends, family and loved ones have given them a shocked or terrified look as if they’ve been informed of a fatal disease. Nevermind the fact that it’s a disorder, it may as well be a deadly illness to these people. It’s situations like this that fuel the addiction stigma, which can be much more deadly than an actual addiction.
What is Addiction?
Any addiction, whether to drugs or gambling, is an overindulgence of something that ends up not being good for you. It’s a disease, not cancer. It’s a brain disorder caused by relapsed feelings of euphoria. That can be chemically induced euphoria cause by drugs and alcohol, or it can be brought on by the satisfaction one gets from indulging in something that won’t generally benefit you. The latter can be seen in people who suffer from gambling, porn or shopping addictions. It’s the satisfaction that gets sent to the brain which triggers euphoric sensations. Long story short, it’s a disease. And this disease has a cure.
The Stigma of Addiction
What are people saying about addiction, other than it being classified as a curable disease?
A majority of people who have been fueling the addiction stigma see those affected by it as immoral human beings. They are, therefore, doing something terribly wrong and should feel shamed of their actions. Something immoral is anything that, in society, can be seen as a general wrongdoing. As human beings, we all have different morals. But in the world of addiction, there are those who find it immoral and those who don’t. The truth is it should not be seen as either moral or immoral, just as you don’t see a stroke or diabetes as moral or immoral. It is a disease, not a decision in society.
It’s a Choice
Whether or not drug and alcohol addictions are a choice depends on the person who is addicted. We’re now talking about those who do not personally choose to be addicted. No matter what the addiction was fueled by, it was never a choice. This is true even in cases of young teens that end up at parties with alcohol. Sure, it may start out as fun and games, but then addiction slowly but surely creeps its way into their lives. These teens didn’t choose to become addicted, and it is society that makes it seem that way. Not everyone understands the pressure and depression that lead users toward drugs and alcohol.
Claire Rudy Foster described those affected by the addiction stigma of addiction as wearing a permanent scarlet A on their chest. No matter where they go, they would be wearing a bright A to let the world know they are, or once was, an addict. It’s as if anyone who has ever been addicted to drugs or alcohol should lie around in their guilt and shame. As if the world has no place for these people, and this is what society makes of addicts.
The deadly addiction stigma is just that, deadly. Many addicts and former addicts would be able to claim the stigma of addiction to be much more fatal than the addiction itself. This is because people, as a society, carry a lot of self-worth and pride on their backs. When that gets taken away, people are left with nothing. If the addiction stigma doesn’t stop there will be no one left to save.