When people think of an addict, they might of the person lying under a bridge surrounded by needles. Or they might think of the drunk man walking down the street drinking out of a paper bag. Or they might think of the woman who regularly disrupts the party she’s at because of her alcoholism. Hearing the word addict can wake up certain images and names. And sadly, these images can be self-imposed when we find ourselves struggling with an addiction. When you realize that you’re hooked on a certain drug, you might start losing your sense of self-worth, you might feel less confident, or you might start to feel unworthy. However, getting past the negative stereotypical image of the addict can not only help you get sober, it can help you stay sober too.
When we begin to identify with a certain image or person, we lock ourselves into a box. Identifying with these old images of the addict can become self-deprecating. And in turn, you might find yourself drinking or using drugs again, until it becomes a vicious cycle. The more you drink the worse you feel, and the worse you feel the more you drink. It’s common to think of addicts as con artists, criminals, or undignified dregs of society. But putting that label upon yourself can only make your addiction worse. In order to get sober, there’s a certain kind of self-confidence that’s required. You don’t necessarily have to believe in yourself, but you have to believe in the fact that something is better for you. You do have to believe that it’s possible to make a change.
Besides, the images of the addict described above have been popularized by society. But they aren’t necessarily true. The addict can be found in all levels of socioeconomic status, all levels of intelligence, all types of families, and all the various forms of cultures. No matter who you are or where you come from or how much money you have, you may be vulnerable to addiction. For instance, someone might be functioning fine in their daily life. They might have a full time job, friends, and hobbies. But when they get home at the end of the day, they might drink until passed out. They might get high until unconscious.
An addict simply means someone who has an addiction. And in truth, this could even be someone who is addicted to shopping, gambling, sex, or relationships. It could be someone who is addicted to coffee, nicotine, marijuana, or sugar. In a sense, we are all addicts to something. If we are not hooked on coffee, then we are hooked on sugar. And if not sugar, then television.
Letting go of the identification of being an addict could in fact be the first step of getting sober. You might instead say to yourself, “I have the illness of addiction.” Or if you are in your first few days or weeks of recovery, then you’re not an addict, you’re sober. Identifying with being sober will make a lasting impression. You will more likely be able to stay away from alcohol and drugs.
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