A Message For Anyone Who Has Been Touched By Addiction

Ben Salter
Ben Salter

Addiction. It’s one of the most complicated diseases to understand. Why? Because of the stigma and disgust around it, the helplessness of it. An addict’s brain is wired a different way than a non-addict. There’s nothing anyone can do to change them or change that.

So many people say to addicts, ‘well you don’t look like one!’ But by saying this, you’re perpetuating the stereotype of an addict, and if you’re an addict speaking to another struggling addict – you’re essentially putting yourself down. I would beg the question, what does an addict LOOK like?

It’s a hidden disease. Full of shame and guilt and that only perpetuates the isolation and using.

I have met addicts from all walks of life – some of amazing intelligence, great jobs, supportive parents, athletes, empathetic people, CEO’s, rich people, poor people. What is important to recognize is that it’s a disease that can happen to anyone.

Let me say that again.

It’s a disease that can happen to any family.

Addicts live in a world where they are the cause of their own problems because their brains are sick and 95% of people are uneducated about this.

No wonder they feel alone, suicidal, depressed, and hopeless. Until we start embracing this as a disease, we will not move forward.

In my humble opinion, the problem lies here: With the disease of addiction, you ruin relationships as a result of your disease NOT because you don’t care. You lose everyone you love and don’t remember doing it. With any other disease, people run to your bedside with flowers.

Addiction manifests itself in behavior and that’s why it’s a hard pill to swallow for families and friends.

I’m not saying anyone’s behavior should be without consequences. I’m saying addicts never feel quite right in their own bodies. They struggle with feeling like two people. They feel feelings very deeply. They care a lot about what others think of them. They’re codependent. The drugs are a SYMPTOM of the disease of addiction, and for a while, help become a temporary escape from the disease. The drugs are NEVER the cause. It doesn’t work like that.

The disease haunts those who have it from a normal life.
There is no cure.
Imagine your brain telling you every day, you’re not ok.

I will close with this, a message to families of addicts everywhere: Please, do not punish your loved one by abandoning them, they need your love. Hang on a little longer, find some room in your heart for compassion, and then some more after that. They hate themselves enough for what they did to you, but they have no control over themselves anymore. Imagine what that feels like.

We have to talk about this as a society. We have to support addicts if we want to change the fate of addicts.

This disease feeds on shame, guilt and isolation. I want to break the cycle. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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