OPINION: Looking past the stigma of addiction

Addiction: a “chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations."

Imagine being a prisoner of your own mind, a slave to your own thoughts and demons; feeling as if no one could possibly understand where you are. So you go find something, something that makes you feel okay and not so insane.; feeling so in control that you’re out of control.

When a lot of people think of addiction, they just think of people who use a lot of drugs. Many people also think the reason of addiction is solely drugs, which is not the case. It is much more than that.

There’s a particular way that an addict’s mind typically works. Someone can be an addict to many other things besides drugs, such as, alcohol, food, sex, gambling, nicotine, and much more.

It is also a mental disease, a chronic one. There is no one cause to addiction, since every addict's addiction is different, it is individual.

There are things that can make a person much more likely to become an addict of some sort. Genetics surely play a part as one’s predisposition to becoming an addict is 40-60 percent genetic.

Environment is also a factor into those genes being expressed in a person’s life. As someone once told me, genetics load the gun and life pulls the trigger.

There are three stages an addict goes through: use, abuse, and dependency. Someone who is not predisposed to becoming an addict can snort a line of cocaine and leave it as that.While someone who is predisposed to becoming an addict can do a line and be hooked.

Many alcoholics say the time when they drank their first alcoholic beverage was when the light bulb turned on, and they had arrived; Arrived to becoming addicted.

The addictive mind is very manipulative, and is full of lies. Lies that the addict believes, such as, "I can just have one drink," or "I can stop if I wanted to," or even "I am okay to drive."

Addicts are likely to make decisions they later regret when they use, such as drinking and driving, fighting, or any other harmful behavior. An addict’s mind is wired differently than someone who is not an addict, which is one of the many reasons why it is hard for the addict to stop the harmful behaviors that are seemingly impossible to stop.

In fact, 90 percent of alcoholics do not even make it to their first Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. As a lot of people in AA say, “If you are an alcoholic and are not sober, you will either end up in prison or dead”.

I have a friend who is anorexic, a drug addict, and an alcoholic. They were sober for almost 6 months, until they relapsed. They ended up almost killing someone, with a felony DUI, and spent 8 months in county jail. Before that incident had occurred, they seemed somewhat strong in their sobriety. Little did I know, they were drunk half of the time I hung out with them and were using other drugs as well.

Poor coping skills is partly what led to this person’s relapse. Drugs and alcohol are what they went to as a method of escaping reality. That is what I used my addiction (anorexia) for, to escape the demons that inhabited my mind that I could not seem to scape.

Both mine and my friend's methods of escaping clearly didn’t work or help. Both mine and my friends addiction’s almost killed us both. That is just something that can happen if an addict is not in recovery from their addiction.

Many addicts think that life is not worth living if they cannot live in it without their disease, when in reality, people find that they didn’t have much of a life in their addiction.

Luckily, there is a lot of hope for those who have any sort of addiction. There are plenty of AA, NA (narcotics anonymous), SLAA (sex and love addicts anonymous) meetings all around Los Angeles that are more than welcoming to any new comers. Being an addict may be something one does not choose, but sobriety/recovery is.