DISTORTED PERCEPTIONS OF ILLNESS & ADDICTION IN A FEARFUL WORLD

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Obviously, there is a stigma when it comes to narcotic addiction. So when a drug addict gets sick or overdoses, it’s easy for some to distance themselves or conclude that it happens to specific groups comprised of losers. I’ve often heard the line that it’s a lifestyle choice, or God punishes the “bad” people. Those who believe that tell an entirely different story when they are the victims of some tragic fate.

What a holier-than-thou world it’s become.

As far as I’m concerned, the only bad people are those who deliberately and repeatedly harm and destroy others.

Seriously, I wish people without any addictions and those who claim “other” addictions would stop acting so smug and being so callous. How about gratitude when we’re not afflicted with something or another?

Everyone has weaknesses.

Some who readily toss others in the “loser” category tend to forget the long list of known addictions. They may be familiar with the most obvious ones—alcohol, over the counter medications, gambling, work, food, smoking, caffeine, internet, etc. I remember the sanctimonious politicians who never thought much about their sex, fetishes, and porn addictions until caught with their pants down. Many people readily accept codependency and its’ related addictions to ego, attention, approval, people pleasing, perfection, and drama. Then there are the adrenaline junkies, the exercise fanatics. People become obsessed with plastic surgery, crime, sugar, television, video games, greed, lying, even isolation. The list goes on and on, which means most of us are addicted to something or another at some point in time. It is all about the obsessions that cause dysfunction in our lives because obsessions impair judgment and distort perception.

One might say, well I don’t hurt anyone doing what I do, and drug addicts hurt “innocent” people. First, you may not even realize that your addiction has hurt others. And yes, there are drug addicts who endanger lives. There are also non-drug addicts who do that, and there are drug addicts who don’t intentionally seek to harm anyone.

For the most part, people with addictions are innocent, too.

Why look down on anyone who is suffering?

And, yes, they are suffering. Those of us who have fought to save a loved one or have lost a loved one know this heartrending struggle too well. Whether it is physical or emotional, they are in pain—quite often agonizing pain.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a “primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry.” Many people still reject this theory while others see it as more of a personality disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is not only a complex disease but also a mental illness.

I believe it is all of these things.

But even if someone can dismiss the facts and theories, there is one thing that’s difficult to dispute if you’ve had any involvement with addicts or addiction. They have a common denominator. They’re often trauma survivors.

I’m sure the whole mental illness aspect makes some people uncomfortable, too, even though it is a broad spectrum with different degrees of functioning levels. It’s easy to shun and deny, and that only creates more problems.

The Kim Foundation cites that “an estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older or about one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people.”

I’ve heard someone say, God’s perfect love casts out fear and almost in the next breath go on to condemn another person out of fear.

Well, I say this. Whatever is behind addiction, people die intentionally, accidentally, and from related diseases, and they are often denied in death the acceptance, understanding, and unconditional love they may have also been denied in life.

Among that group of individuals, we’ve lost some of the kindest people who ever lived. I know I have.

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Links:

DrugFacts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction

The Disease Model of Addiction

Is Drug Abuse a Mental Illness?

Psychology Today: A Brain’s Eye View of Addiction as a Disease

Featured image by Roya Ann Miller

© Copyright May 9, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

About Kyrian Lyndon

Kyrian Lyndon is the author of Shattering Truths, the first book in her Deadly Veils series. She has also published two poetry collections, A Dark Rose Blooms, and Remnants of Severed Chains. Kyrian Lyndon began writing short stories and fairy tales when she was just eight years old. In her adolescence, she moved on to poetry. At sixteen, while working as an editor for her high school newspaper, she wrote her first novel, and then completed two more novels at the ages of nineteen and twenty-five. Born and raised in Woodside, Queens, New York, Kyrian has worked primarily in executive-level administrative positions with major New York publishing companies. She resides on Long Island in New York.

Posted on May 15, 2016, in Blogs and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Excellent presentation of how so many people in society interpret addiction/mental illness. I too believe most people will find they are “addicted” to some behavior or habit in their life. I also believe addictions do affect/hurt/steal quality living time with those closest to us. There are ALL kinds of addictions, they start out as being a choice you make. Sadly alcohol and drugs are just two types that many judge as bad people. I don’t believe there are “BAD” people, only “BAD” choices some make where the underlying substance takes over. It then become a disease. Would you judge those who have cancer from smoking? My husband fought the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction. It was ugly at times, however I knew who my husband was and what addiction did. I stayed by his side . He was sober and clean and at 55, I lost my husband,a loving kind, honest, funny ,hard-working man to a disease that he had from making bad choices earlier in life. Distorted perceptions society, look in the mirror with gratitude for what you have and help others find the good in themselves, not the “BAD” .

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    • Thank you so much, Ellen. I agree that one initially makes a choice to use drugs. When people write it off as simply a lifestyle choice, though, it seems to imply they just keep choosing to do it. And as you said, though it starts that way, it’s such an insidious disease that doesn’t take long to rob them of that willpower and control they need to stop. It’s true, too, if someone’s doctor says, you have to change your diet, or your heart will give out, and they don’t do it, no one would say that was a lifestyle choice, so too bad. Your husband sounds like he was a good person, and I’m so sorry you lost him. It is truly heartbreaking to live with an addict and even worse to lose him in the end. Lots of love to you, my friend.

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