Don’t become a statistic. The words were plastered all over the New York City Subway at a time when getting onto the tracks gave you a dangerously high chance of death. It was meant to raise awareness of the danger lurking just a few feet below and advise subway passengers and commuters to exercise more caution when standing on the platform.
Yet we cannot help but be a statistic. You either do or you do not, but at the end of the day, you end up as a tick on a graph. So, what can you do? Be on the right side of the statistic.
What does this have to do with getting help for addiction however?
Roughly 20 million Americans over the age of 12 struggle with substance abuse and addiction. Only about 2.6 million, however, seek treatment. And about 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2016.
There are no concrete numbers on how many Americans successfully got sober and stayed sober, because the criteria differ wildly. Therefore, if you want to get out of being a statistic, your best bet is to stay sober.
Without treatment, addiction will kill you. There are only two options when you find yourself addicted to a drug – either it slowly takes your life, or you quit the drug.
Many choose the second option alone, but the cravings, the pain and the temptation drive them back, and they feel even worse than before. Addiction treatment exists to prevent that, to provide help for addiction and get people past the hardest part so they can work on themselves and hopefully stop using forever.
Why Addiction Is So Dangerous
To someone who has never been addicted, the cravings can best be explained as thirst rather than want. It is not like looking at something extremely desirable and being overcome with the feeling of wanting to have it, to the point of obsession. It is more like being in a desert with a parched throat, knowing you could quench your thirst with some water, but actively deciding not to.
Over the months and years, the thirst gets weaker, and you find other ways to survive the desert. But in your mind, you will always know that nothing can quench that thirst like ice cold water.
Addiction is a terrible thing. It makes you unaccountable to the point where you cannot trust yourself. It makes betraying others and doing terrible things much easier. It enthralls you to a substance that is slowly but surely killing you.
But there is a solution. Help for addiction exists and it can be beaten. Modern-day treatment options have shown that it can be done. The only question is which treatment suits you best.
Can Addiction Be Prevented?
No one truly chooses to be addicted. Everyone makes a choice when they take their first sip of alcohol or shoot up their first hit of heroin – but after a while, choice blurs away, because you lose the ability to stop. If you can quit on your own, it was not an addiction. And in the moment, you realize that you need help for addiction to stop, you understand why choice has little to do with it after a while.
So then, can addiction be prevented? Of course. By never taking a sip of alcohol, or a taste of any other drug. If you can skip the addiction and the rehab and go straight to permanent sobriety, then do so.
But many do not. For one, substance abuse and substance use is not the same. While drugs like heroin are incredibly addictive and alcohol consumption is the norm for most adults in the US, while alcoholism remains relatively rare in comparison. That alone is enough to tempt people to try it. The same goes for marijuana, which over half of the US adult population has tried.
Whether recreational use of certain drugs is okay or not is a very debated question that many people ask themselves. For at least some, they reach the conclusion that it is fine, despite the risk of addiction. And for them, there is no telling what will happen down the road.
For some people, addiction is genetic. It takes them very little time to get hooked, and when they do, it takes many years to feel unhooked. In other cases, it is a matter of a perfect storm of environmental factors, such as childhood abuse, grief, mental health issues and peer pressure. Others deliberately use addictive drugs to drown out certain emotions, self-medicating and thus turning one issue into two and magnifying the help for addiction that they need.
We cannot judge people for making the choices they did when they got addicted. We can judge the choices, but not the people. Because even if they made bad choices, they can be good people. All it takes is a little bit of help for addiction from the outside, and a willingness to getting better.
It Is Not Wrong To Be Addicted
It is common for people to judge themselves for their actions as addicts. Of course, it is only human to show remorse for the mistakes you made. But to drag it out from being conscious of your wrongdoing to feeling sorry for yourself and wallowing in shame helps no one.
Learn from your mistakes, get help for addiction, and always do your best to never repeat them. Life is never perfect for anyone, and everyone stumbles. The key is using them to be better in the future.
Getting Help For Addiction: You Are Never Alone
It has been said once before, but it can be said again. Over 20 million Americans struggle with addiction today. There are countless others who get help for addiction and are sober to this day. And yet others who lived full lives, fighting addiction, and living and loving despite it, passing away and leaving behind a legacy to be cherished.
You are not alone. Through the internet, and through treatment centers, group meetings and clubs everywhere, you can meet people at any time and at any place and talk about your feelings and troubles among others who have gone through many similar experiences.
No matter how crazy your story, no matter how bad your experiences, someone out there will know what it was like and will be able to sympathize. And even in your darkest hour, if you have a few sober friends around you and seek help for addiction, it will all be okay.