A hot cup of coffee, diet Pepsi, bad relationships...alcohol....heroin...are we all addicted to something? Why do some people become addicts? What is the role of mental health in addiction? Why do people start?
This week and for the next few weeks we decided to open up the much needed discussion about addiction, addicts and the views we have about both. The questions above were just some of the many questions I asked a number of people at the Mission, with varying experiences relating to addiction.
One aspect that became clear to me as we all began to try to unravel these loaded questions, was that addiction does not fit into a single model, also it became obvious that recovery was not a one size fits all item either. Addiction effects people of all different races, genders, classes, creeds and is far from a new problem being faced. So why? Why do people become addicts?
"I don't think people do it for all the same reasons."
"I think it has a lot to do with if someone has a lack direction."
"People have a hole and they are trying their best to fill it."
"Some people try a drug or something and get addicted, it just happens."
" I don't think it is a guarantee, but some people are more predisposed to addiction biased on family history."
Some of the people I talked to said that mental health was a factor, that people that are driven and love life simple do not become addicts. Some said many people just want to fit in ,and try it, and it happens. Addicts are not just one type of person, they don't have to be a person living under a bridge, they can be people that no one sees as failure. It seemed that every time we talk about one reason someone challenge it with a different reason.
One thing was clear we all believed that as one person said "people don't just wake up and want to be an addict." We agreed that maybe some addicts tried a drug or drank voluntarily but that does not mean they sign up to be an addict. Haven't we all made decisions, especially when we were 16, 15, 14 years old that could have ended with serious consequences? Addiction is not something a person chooses, it is not that simple. A young man seemed to say it best when he described addiction as "You start using and then overtime...you're not the person you were ."
Please help us continue our conversation about addiction! Please add your thoughts! For information about addiction recovery please check out our Cool to Recover page!