Recently, the New York Times released on an online article with unique animated imagery accompanying it which illustrates how opioid addiction is experienced by those afflicted by it. More importantly, however, is the important message from recovering addicts in various stages of the illness speaking about their own experiences, shedding light and shattering stereotypes that are still wildly popular among society and largely wrong. It also illustrates that this particular addiction that is continuing to affect nearly a million Americans in one form or another does not discriminate. Rich, poor, educated or drop out, the candid recollections of those featured paints a very different picture than how addicts are typically portrayed.

Probably one of the most damaging of beliefs held by a large part of society today is that addiction is something that can simply be ‘walked away from’, that all it takes is will power to get drugs like heroin out of your life. The typical idea of someone deciding one day to stick needles in their arms to get high is ridiculously out of touch with the reality of how people end up using hard drugs but continues to be the viewpoint of many Americans. That notion is completely dismantled by one sentence in particular by Rebecca Ronning, a former user.

“You’re not getting high anymore. You’re just fixing the withdrawal.”

With so few words, the very notion most people have about using drugs like heroin or even oxycodone are destroyed and reconstructed into a very different thing. People use drugs for the first time for a variety of reasons which can put them into the path of addiction and those reasons are not always nefarious or ‘evil’ or ‘stupid’. A large part of the opioid epidemic stems from people who were administered opioid prescription pain killers by their doctor for injury or post surgery care, a far cry from the idea of someone going into a shady ally looking to be dangerously dumb. The image of what an addict is or how they came to be an addict is not a straight line where one starts from a specific point and ends on another specific point.

It’s also easy to forget with all of the attention of opioids sucking the air out of the room that other addictions that existed before the sensationalized headlines were also around with their own stereotypes. Alcoholism continues to exist and claims even more lives than opioids and has even more complications when it comes to developing into a life-wrecking illness. Methamphetamines, another drug that appears both in legal prescribed medication forms and harder illegal forms, adds even more issues with how addiction actually works. Unlike math and engineering which has been studied for centuries, addiction is a new phenomena which is only just now beginning to be understood and this article shows if we think about it as we have in the past, it’s only going to continue to take society by surprise while we’re busy blaming the wrong people and looking the other way when it’s right in front of our faces.

Discovery InstituteAddiction can affect anyone and requires treatment if afflicted. If you or someone you know wishes to return to sober living in NJ or require a detox center in NJ, call Discovery Institute at 844-478-6563. We’re one of the top rated drug rehab centers in the state and offer professional treatment from trained counselors.


Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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