Addiction Warrants Compassion

addiction compassionOur culture is gradually warming up to the idea that mental illnesses are just as real a disease as physical illnesses. Recent research has revealed how mental disorders change the brain’s neural network to make it dysfunctional, and it takes a great deal of effort to reverse the dysfunction, which makes them actual conditions rather than simply a state of mind. However, when it comes to addiction, people are more resistant to being compassionate. It is true that a person’s addiction is very hard on the people in their life, however, the same can be said of any mental disorder.

Addicts have just as real a condition as those who suffer depression, anxiety or a number of other mental disorders. Addiction is resented so fiercely because people can see with their eyes how the addict is feeding their addiction. Those who are close to the addict see them overindulge. Even when the addict has taken to trying to hide their addiction, their secretive behavior can be observed by those who are close to them. This is resented because people can observe the actions taken that contribute to the illness.

When you think about a mental disorder like depression, we cannot see the things the depressed person does that contribute to the depression because they are thought patterns. Depressed people are in the pattern of engaging in negative self talk which sets them into episodes of depression. Depression is no one’s fault, yet it is the depressed person’s responsibility to learn positive self talk so that they can break the cycle of depression. The same can be said for addiction. An addict is responsible for learning how to resist their addiction and acquiring tools that will make them strong against the temptation to return to addiction. In both cases, the person with the condition has a responsible role to play in their recovery. It is a fallacy of reason to offer patience to someone struggling with depression but condemn someone struggling with addiction.

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