There is a great deal of misinformation about addiction floating around, compounded by the stereotypes that many people have come to believe to be true about addicts and addiction. There is still stigma surrounding addiction, and incorrect assumptions that it is found disproportionately in poor communities and homeless populations. Addiction is often wrongly associated with criminal behavior, and it is a common assumption that addicts are violent criminals, and vice versa. The reality is that addiction affects all of us, from all walks of life, from all kinds of neighborhoods and communities, from any socio-economic status, religion or ethnicity. Addicts hold all kinds of jobs, including professional careers, and have all kinds of education levels, including advanced degrees. Addiction can affect anyone who has unresolved pain and who seeks an outlet for that pain, albeit an unhealthy one. Addiction preys on those of us who have experienced trauma and loss. Normally we are not educated, in school or at home, on holistic ways of processing our pain, and we often don’t realize once we do fall into patterns of addiction that they are being fueled by our unhealthy responses to our pain. Addiction affects many people who don’t have the support systems in their lives to help them navigate their painful issues. When we don’t have the family support we need, we are that much more likely to turn to other means of getting the comfort and support we’re seeking. That can include turning to people who we think are helping us but who themselves are addicts and who introduce us to addictive substances and behaviors. It can include seeking out those things for ourselves, trying them just to experiment, thinking that the temporary escape will numb our pain long enough for us not to feel it, but then we become entrapped. Addiction can show up in anyone, including people who do have family support, who had very happy, healthy childhoods, and who don’t identify with having experienced serious trauma. Addiction is not reserved only for those without emotional support or those who can pinpoint traumatic experiences that they felt led to their addictions. Many people don’t feel there is any one reason or cause for their addiction. Some people feel it was inherited from family. Some people feel they were genetically predisposed to it. Some people feel they learned addictive behaviors from the people around them in their formative years. Many people are still grappling to figure out how they became addicts, especially if there was no one in their family who struggled with addiction. In short, addiction can affect anyone, and none of us is immune to developing it.
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