Author and activist calls for people to learn from addicts

February 27, 2014

Many individuals avoid getting treatment for their alcohol addiction or drug problem because they are afraid of the social stigma that can come with entering into an addiction treatment center. One way to reduce this issue could be for people to talk to former addicts and hear about how they struggled to get clean and how their lives have improved since they have stopped using drugs. Then they may understand what it is like to be an addict and see all of the things they can learn from people who have gone through this fight.

Recently, the Today Show website published an excerpt from the book “What Addicts Know,” by Christopher Kennedy Lawford. Along with being an author, Lawford is also an actor and political activist, and he is also a member of the Kennedy family. For his book, Lawford spoke to a number of people who have been impacted by all types of addiction – from drug and alcohol to gambling. He explained that through talking to them, he discovered that addicts are some of the most “interesting, fascinating and gifted” that he has ever met.

He encouraged individuals to stop judging addicts and start talking to them to learn more about the disease of addiction and how it can happen to anyone. Lawford explained that he believes addicts are not only survivors, they are also teachers, and people should listen to them before they find themselves facing addiction as well. He added that even people who truly believe that they could never become addicted to anything should still speak to addicts, since in today’s society addiction has become more and more common.

“As a culture we’ve become addicted not only to gambling, drugs, alcohol, and the other usual suspects, but also to technology and the acquisition of material possessions and every conceivable promise of instant gratification. More is better has become society’s mantra. We eat more, spend more, take more risks, abuse more substances…only to feel more depressed, unsatisfied, discontented, and unhappy. You may know these symptoms firsthand, or recognize them in the lives of the people you care about. What we are left with is the throbbing emptiness that sets in when the fixation on more brings us nothing but more of the same old feeling of want,” Lawford wrote in “What Addicts Know.”

He recommended that people ask themselves some questions to determine if they might be addicted to something and are in need of recovery. For example: Are my emotions mostly on an even keel? Are my personal relationships strong and supportive? Is there enough joy in my life?

Learning from addicts

One of the most common ways that people end up hearing the stories of former addicts is when celebrities come clean about their past struggles with drug and alcohol abuse. For example, actress Drew Barrymore published a memoir at the age of 14 titled “Little Girl Lost,” about how she was already addicted to cocaine by the age of 12. Furthermore, famed signer Elton John has been open about his struggles with drugs and alcohol, as have many other celebrities. When these individuals share their stories it may encourage other former addicts to speak about their troubled past so they can educate others on the importance of being open about addiction problems they may be experiencing.

Addiction is nothing to be ashamed of – it is something to take control over. People who are concerned that they may have an addiction should seek out treatment and stories from former addicts to see if their experiences seem to be lining up with their own.

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