Not every person suffering from an addiction is homeless and destitute, in fact, many addicts still have their health, jobs, homes, cars, families and more. These external material things are not what defines an addict – drug addiction affects all types of people and does not discriminate. There are young addicts, old addicts, and people in-between. Let’s take a look at a few different faces of addiction – can you relate to any of these?
Young people suffering from addiction can fall anywhere on the spectrum from a very severe addiction to just getting started. Many young addicts experience a rapid progression in their using and use every day, or just about. They have limited access to money and resources and may be more likely to engage in criminal activities such as stealing and selling drugs to get what they need. Hallmarks of a young addict are not so much ‘losing’ things, but an inability to ‘get’ things, such as a college degree, a house, cars, etc. They start out in the way of life of an addict and cannot picture their life any other way. Often, to get these addicts sober they need an intervention or some sort of stand from their family, and they need to learn life skills along with recovery skills to have a successful shot at sobriety.
Sometimes, addiction does not show up until later in life. Sure, there were signs earlier, but they did not impact job or family too much, so they were not paid attention to. Maybe now that the kids are gone, or the end of career is coming, they experience more trouble with their addiction. The stress of added health issues in this demographic may make addictions more obvious. What their bodies could handle at the age of 30, their 60-year-old bodies start breaking down. Maybe there are liver problems, seizures, or other organs start failing. It is never too late to get help for an addiction, and many people in this age group are able to successfully obtain sobriety. Combining life experience with the tools learned in recovery often make these people great mentors for others early in their recovery.
Since the stigma attached to addiction often shows addicts without jobs and careers, many people suffering from addiction in the professional class may be unwilling or unable to admit they have a problem. Contrary to this belief, there are many professionals who have addictions they are concealing on the job. Maybe you are a nurse addicted to opiates, and you are siphoning off some of your employer’s supply, trying not to get caught. Maybe you are a dental hygienist, and you only drink Thursday, Friday and Saturday, although that is quickly turning into Sunday and Wednesday. Perhaps you are a high-powered salesperson whose job entails wining and dining potential clients. Maybe your job encourages this behavior, but you have taken it too far on some occasions and feared repercussions. Many people in this class fear both the time needed off work to rehabilitate and what they will be like after they are sober. Will they still be able to do their job? For these people, it is important to remember that eventually, it will all catch up to you if you are an addict. You will lose your job, your place in the community, your respect, and possibly much more. It’s never too late to get help, and your performance at work can improve with your newfound sobriety.
The many faces of addiction show you that addiction strikes all kinds. It does not discriminate. The good news is, sobriety does not discriminate either, and you can get better no matter how far down the scale you have gone.