Any approach that minimises addiction as 'simply a bad choice', or 'a bad habit acquired through a lackadaisical couldn't care less attitude' is profoundly missing the point and misunderstanding the nature and depth of addiction and its driving force and motivational intensity.
Addiction is not about not caring, but about caring too much about the wrong things. It is not a personality defect or a character flaw; in almost every case it is a response to events that happened long ago, over which the addict had absolutely no control and yet for which they take societies opprobrium daily. What they do have a choice over, however, and this is where therapy, counselling, self-help and all support networks come into their own, is in taking responsibility for the situation now. And that is what separates those in the gutter who end up prematurely in the morgue, from those in counselling/therapy rooms, support groups and networks. They find, with assistance, patience, honest soul searching and compassionate curiosity, their place in society and manage to live a rewarding and integrated life internally and externally; the one feeds and nourishes the other, as does the individual and the collective.
The addict is the outsider, lost and alone. But the recovered addict has found him/herself again - that is what "recovery" means; recovering ones true self - and takes their rightful place as an honoured guest amongst other honoured guests at the celebratory banquet table of life. Included, not excluded; understood and accepted, not judged and vilified for others misdeeds.
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About Bradley Riddell
Bradley Riddell is a counsellor in private practice in Brighton and Maidstone who specialises in addiction.