Addiction: Starting the Conversation

Counselor talking to young lady who is worried and possibly experiencing mental illness such as depression or anxiety. - 7/01/2019

Back in the 1970s, addiction was seen as a moral failure instead of a disease. It was everyone’s “dirty little secret,” whether they were a war veteran trying to cope with PTSD, an underappreciated housewife or an overworked corporate executive.

Today that stigma is starting to lift. In large part, we have social media to thank. The topics of drug, alcohol and opioid addictions are emerging as a hot topic on various platforms. A lot of people are sharing their stories which lets others know it’s OK to come out of the shadows and talk about this chronic disease.

In decades past, even people in the treatment field didn’t label addiction a disease. Today we know better. Scientists know addiction is a disease, and even though there isn’t a cure, there are strategies for prevention and treatments for recovery. You don’t need to be a scientist to recognize the signs. Look for changes in behavior like new friends or priorities, and withdrawal or aggression. 

Everyone doesn’t require formalized treatment so it’s important to know that there are different levels of intervention. Typically, people just need something or someone from which to draw strength and support (i.e. church, yoga practice, etc.). 

A great way to start what may seem to be a difficult conversation, is to say, “I’m concerned.” Be genuine. Even if your help is denied the first time, you’ve opened the conversation in a way that’s easy to accept. 

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