Treating addiction as the mental health crisis that it is

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Every day, there are health risks and threats that present themselves from every possible angle. While all of them are obviously destructive and harrowing in their own right, there is one that is more destructive from a personal point of view, than ever. Addiction plagues millions of individuals around the world every year, and it is seemingly becoming worse with every passing year lately. There is a growing worldwide population of individuals who feel the effects of addiction, in all its forms. These individuals are plagued not only by their addictions, but by the decidedly toxic attitude of those around them in relation to their addiction. For so long, there has been an incorrect and unhealthy consensus that addiction is a health concern caused by behavioural issues. Of course, this is partially correct in some cases, but for the most part addiction is often spurred on by mental health struggles. This is the reality, and it is about time that people became aware of it.

The stigma surrounding addiction is one that is not only blatantly misplaced, but also incredibly dangerous. Because of the negative attention drawn to addiction, people far too often approach it from a close-minded angle. This inevitably causes a rift between those who genuinely want assistance and support to safely make it to the other side, and the rest of the world, including those who, realistically, should be the first line of support. This rift can be, and often is, the difference between life and death for individuals struggling through the tumultuous pathway that is addiction. When there is a feeling of lack of support, and even malice, individuals will often shy away from the world. Made to feel alone and ashamed, these individuals are too often the very same people who want nothing more than to work towards a better future for themselves.

With little to no support, and no one to turn to in their darkest hour, they too often revert into what is easy, what they know – even if it is not what is best for them and their health: their addiction. Getting addiction help can be a tumultuous process, and that is at least partially due to the fact that the attitude towards addiction is so malicious and toxic. But just as important is the realisation that once it has its talons in an individual, addiction is all-encompassing. It can make those suffering in its reaches feel alone, dependent, scared, and troubled, all at once. There are many pathways to recovery, and many platforms and instances to reach out for assistance, but too often they are met with inconsistent funding, non-existent public and ongoing advertising, and an unsupportive front of people who are either unwilling or unable to lend a hand when it matters the most.

The road to recovery from addiction is paved with good intentions but is nonetheless challenging, to say the very least. And more than that, it is crucial that everyone understands that addiction does not discriminate. This is a health struggle that quite literally can and does affect anyone and everyone, anytime, anywhere. To be high and mighty when you have been fortunate enough not to experience the dark throes of addiction yourself, is not only categorically cruel, but incredibly damaging to the individuals that you hurt by acting that way. If it were you, or someone you love, you would hope that you would have a supportive environment to help you navigate your way through the murky waters, rather than being faced with a pack of cruel and belittling individuals who treat those around them poorly and without any forethought at all. So, why let anyone else face that reality? We should all do our part to consistently work towards a brighter future, and that means coming face to face with the uncomfortable and being bold enough to offer a hand of support rather than run away.

Addiction has been destroying lives and dismantling relationships for decades. The unfortunate truth is that addiction is more common than most of us would like to believe. The decidedly negative connotation that people have drawn surrounding addiction and all it encompasses has been in action far too long, and the repercussions have been dangerous and even fatal the entire time. Now, we are faced with the reality of how far this global epidemic has gone, and what we must do to encourage and initiate a healthier perspective and overall attitude towards addiction and those affected. The fact is simple: addiction does not discriminate. It can affect anyone, anytime, anywhere. So, we must all work together towards encouraging a newfound respect and appreciation for the battle that addiction brings forth, and the sheer determination and willpower that it takes to right the ship. The consequences of not doing so are far too grim. The time for change was yesteryear, but better late than never.

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