I read an article recently that really peeved me. Actually, it wasn't really the article, but the ignorance of the people making comments at the end. At one point, I probably would not have been so peeved by their remarks, because I had not the experience that I have now, but time has changed me, and I see things differently, for more than just the reasons I'll share here.
We all know about Amy Winehouse, and are sick of hearing about her. OK, well, that's the only time I'll mention her name, because that's not really what this is about- her name was just mentioned in the article because she dealt with addiction. What this is about, really, is addiction. The article, which is now buried beneath hundreds of other posts and I'll probably never find it, was about addiction, and how difficult it was to maintain abstinence, and it gave kudos to those who were able to do so. It explained that it was quite common for those with addiction problems to relapse, but that it was not so much of a choice as people would think.
Addiction is far more than just a choice once it has become physiological. Sure, in the beginning, when you're lighting your first joint, or shooting up for the first time, that is a choice. Once you've done it multiple times, though, it becomes more of a coping mechanism.
It's not so easy as a choice. People who think it is so easy as a choice should try going without something they like (doesn't have to be a drug) while being exposed to it often, for an extended period of time. It's more difficult than it looks/sounds. I mean, how many people go on diets, intending to lose weight, only to go off them because they miss their food and end up gaining their weight back? I know this isn't the best comparison, but for someone who has never used a substance, it's hard to understand the mechanisms and motivations behind it.
Then there's the biological underpinning that occasionally comes with it. Mom was addicted to alcohol, dad was an addict, Uncle Joe was an addict, Aunt Jane was an addict, Grandma and Grandpa were addicts....you're probably genetically predisposed. There's a pattern in your family already. If you come from a long line of addicts, there's probably something that predisposes you do addiction to something. If you never pick up a drug, you might not become addicted to drugs; maybe you become addicted to chocolate (you might be female). You also might be socially/environmentally predisposed because...hell, everyone around you is addicted to something, so there's always a substance around, and you might pick one up early. That's a hard addiction to break, if it's picked up in childhood. I've seen it.
So many people say that it's easy- just don't do it. Choose to live a better lifestyle. Choose to make a difference. Choose to make a change. Sometimes that can be done, with the help of someone else. It's rarely (I say rarely because it can, and does, happen) possible to just wake up one day and decide not to do drugs on your own. It's definitely not possible to extinguish a full-on addiction on your own. That's why we have NA, AA, and all the other groups that deal with various addictions. That's why we have rehab and counseling. People do go there.
That's where the choice lies. Are you going to ask for help? Are you going to let someone stand with you, try to help you find a better way? Are you going to continue to allow addiction ruin your life when there are people who can guide you in other directions? That's where the choice lies. The choice doesn't lie in whether or not the person picks up a needle or a drug when they're already addicted. The choice lies in whether they are ready and willing to accept any help that is given, provided, offered, or available to them, and even then, it may be the lifestyle that they're not willing to give up yet. There is such a lifestyle that comes with the use and abuse of drugs that sometimes, it's very difficult to make that change.
Imagine someone asking you to pick up everything you have, move out of your house (because all of your friends are addicts, and you can't live with addicts), find somewhere else to live, go to rehab, ditch all your friends (again, because they're addicts, and they might try to get you to use again), give up the things that are making you feel good, be in a facility for an extended period of time under a bunch of people watching your every move, then released to move into a place you don't know, where you have to make new friends, re-establish life, probably find a new job (or find a job), you'll probably have to make amends with family members...does that sound easy? If you think it sounds easy...I don't know. I don't know what to think.
I know it was hard enough to pick up and move from the place I lived 9 years ago and move 2 hours away and *try to* make new friends and adjust. Just the picking up and re-establishing part in itself component is difficult enough. This is their lifestyle. Pick up, move, be in a facility, then try to put everything back together? A lot to ask of a person who already has troubles and stress.
So, as far as choice goes, I think that a little more thought needs to go in before someone makes the comment that "it's a choice to be an addict." It's ignorant (and before anyone gets upset- ignorant in this case is not derogatory, it's meant to mean that you really just aren't educated about addiction and what goes along with it, or you just don't understand it). When it comes to making harsh comments like that, think twice. We're all human, and we all make mistakes. Some are bigger than others, and have more impact. Some are more dangerous. Some are more addictive.