The Hidden Enemy

I recently read Beautiful Boy by author David Sheff. The book is about his journey through his son, Nic, and his addiction to primarily methamphetamine. Throughout this book, I’ve learned and embraced the idea that addiction is a disease, and not just a choice. Addiction is a real thing, and it strips choice away from that individual. Addiction is a problem in today’s society.

It’s a problem because people shun other people for it.

People don’t want to acknowledge that addiction is a disease. But I don’t blame them for it. Most addiction to drugs and alcohol starts off being a choice. A choice to try that drug. A choice to take a drink of that alcohol. But like Nic Sheff says in one of his many blogs, once that switch is turned on, it cannot be turned off. That one slip, that one puff on a joint, is all it takes to turn that switch.

And once it’s turned on, it cannot be turned off.

That’s where addiction becomes a disease. That’s where people need to help to stop their addiction. This is also the problem people have with viewing addiction as a disease. They think of this as a choice, you can choose to stop. But they don’t realize what it’s like. People, including myself before reading Beautiful Boy, thought they just didn’t want to stop. They didn’t want to be sober. But now I know better. Now I know what this disease is, and how hideously painful it is to its victims.

Another unique quality of this disease: It doesn’t just affect the victim.

It affects everyone important to the victim. Sure you can argue that cancer affects everyone surrounding the victim, because it can kill victim and cause irreversible harm to the body. But that is nothing compared to addiction. Most family members of addicts are affected in one or two ways, or maybe even both.

One: The addict’s family views his/her addiction as a choice.

Two: The addict’s family views his/her addiction as a disease, but can’t get support because most of the world views addiction as a choice.

I almost think option two is worse than option one. If you have cancer, you can get people to rally around you for support, because cancer is something that is viewed as a disease. But what about addiction? Most people still think that it is a choice made by the addict. You won’t get people fundraising for an addiction. You won’t get many people trying to raise awareness for research into how to stop addiction. And that’s why addiction is such a problem. Addiction is a problem because not many people recognized it as a problem.

Addiction really is a huge issue in today’s society, whether people want to acknowledge it as a problem or not.

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