The Addiction Debate

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Ah, it's all Russell Brand's fault. Fancy him going and writing a blooming great article about addiction, which endeavoured to get people to treat addicts with empathy and understanding.

Naturally, I agree wholeheartedly. So, I decided to follow up on my Huffington Post blog, with a an article of my own, backing up the big-haired comedian and sharing my own insights.

However, much to my perpetual bemusement, the moment you start asking people to empathise with addicts, or at least to open their minds to the possibility, the shutters are suddenly pulled down by people who are, I am sure, otherwise intelligent.

Judging by some of the comments, people would rather not consider the possibility that addiction could be some sort of illness or disorder, rendering the sufferer incapable of control or rational thought when it comes to their substance. And yet, that is exactly what it is like.

What I don't get is that people are only too happy to attack addicts and to defend their own opinions, even though they clearly know nothing about addiction, nor have any experience of it. That's like me denying that people really ever suffer from schizophrenia, just because I, myself, do not get delusional thoughts. Well I do, but only around gin. 

The blog post got over 2,000 Facebook likes, and counting, which pleases me greatly, knowing that some people either do understand, or are willing to. Despite that, some of the comments were harsh, heartless and ignorant.

Perhaps saddest of all though is that I wasn't even asking for sympathy for addicts, just a willingess to understand the nature of addition and its core hallmarks, so that we could start to address the problem properly and use effective measures. A call for empathy that clearly led some people to take exactly the opposite approach. If you haven't read the article yet, please do. One more person in the world who is willing to understand makes all the difference to me and my fellow addicts.

by Beth Burgess

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