Societal Perception of Addiction: Why No One is Safe from Addiction

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It is a common perception that only a certain type of person can suffer from addiction, but the truth is that anyone can become an addict with the right circumstances. Age, financial situation, and gender do not matter.

Yet most anyone has a picture in his or her head of what a drug addict looks like but in all reality, there is no one type of person who can become addicted. According to California State University in Northridge, when a psychologist studies the cause of addiction, they do not look for the social stereotypes that are often reinforced by social psychologists, but to the factual aspects of the physiological processes.

There are many types of stereotypes when it comes to those who are addicts that are not true for all cases that bear looking at.

All Addicts are Dirty & Homeless

Whenever the word ‘addict’ arises, most people assume every addict is living on the streets without a job or a family a common misconception. In fact, many addicts are very functional in their lives and maintain a good job, a car, a home, and a family while they are struggling with addiction.

According to a study conducted in 2012 by the NCBI, 65.7% of drug addicts were married, and only 13.3% were unemployed. This can make it hard for the addict to believe that have a problem if they are not living behind a dumpster with their latest hit when their addiction may be just as bad as many other addicts who live worse than they are.

While some addicts do lose their homes due to the cost of their addiction, not all of them live on the streets and many sustain jobs during the course of their addiction.

Morals and Choices

Many assume that an addict is a bad person to be around and that is how the addict usually views himself or herself as well due to the stereotype. Drugs have little to do with morals and character but more to do with solace. It is also commonly believed that being an addict is a choice.

While the initial use of the substance or the act is mostly voluntary, the addiction that transpires has more to do with the brain chemistry associated with the substance. When an addict begins to use their substance, it gives them a high and a sense of happiness in their lives that inspires the use of more and more to keep the high going, which can begin an addiction.

It is not as simple as flipping a switch and the best way to resolve this issue is usually to seek professional help.

Addicts have and are Terrible Parents

Another common misconception is that many addicts come from broken homes and have experienced some kind of trauma. Not all addicts come from a bad family or trauma and different circumstances can lead to the use of a substance.

No one can make an addict the way they are, they began their addiction with the knowledge of the consequences. Therefore, addiction is not caused by bad influences or family, as it was the addict’s choice to begin using on their own.

From the other side of the stereotype, many drug addicts have children and while this is not a safe practice, many do try to support not only their addiction but their children as well. While some addicts are teenagers or young adults, not all are.

Addiction is not specific to age, and most anyone can develop an addiction when given the right circumstances.

Addicts are Bad People

There is a wide stereotype that addicts are bad people because they are violent while under the influence. While this may be true for some addicts, it can depend on the type of drug and person who is under the influence.

Along with the belief that addicts are bad people, many believe that addicts have a criminal history and while some are others live functional lives. It is not a good idea to assume that an addict has a criminal history.

Not all addicts are thieves or murderers and in fact, most addicts do not see the inside of a jail cell at any point during their addiction. According to the NIDA, addiction touches all demographics.

While it is easily to envision a drug addict as a homeless teen with bad parents and a criminal record, there are many different types of addicts. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, for any number of reasons and it is important to remember that just because an individual’s life does not fit the stereotype, they can still have just as bad of an addiction as anyone who struggles with it.