Black, White and Grey World of Addiction

Black, White and Grey World of Addiction

When I was in school, I learnt about the world of addiction. Alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling addiction are some of those that I remember talking about in class. The teacher told us that if we consume alcohol or try drugs or indulge in gambling, we are bad people. He even showed us a short movie that portrayed a topper schoolgirl whose life takes the worst turn after she starts drinking alcohol. Her image came to my mind every time I heard the term “alcoholic”. 

Drunkard! Alcoholic! You’re a disgrace! You’re a bad person, you don’t deserve to have friends, your parents will disown you. ” 

I think my first legitimate fear was that of being labeled an alcoholic. So, I never touched alcohol or cigarettes or drugs. I even started belittling people who did and behaved badly with them. However, as I grew up, I started learning that many lessons I learned were not true or it did not have to be true for me. 

It is so easy to judge people to be either good or bad. Even in the movies, we see the protagonist being completely white – the good guy; and the antagonist being completely black – the bad guy. We are so closed off from the idea of grey that we don’t realize that human beings are actually grey characters. We are an amalgamation of black and white. Anyone who has fallen prey to an addiction of any form, s/he is not a bad person, they are just in a bad situation. 

We must understand that they are more than their addiction. They are probably really smart, really good at their jobs and they probably love their families a lot. Like all of us. Normal. The only difference between an addict and a non addict is that the addiction is in control for the former. Hence, they are not necessarily bad people but are probably a little lost. It means that we should help them find their way. Or at least give them a chance to find their way. 

Society already has formed a lot of norms about what is right and what is wrong. And as a popular psychiatrist Thomas Szasz says, abnormality is just a concept formed by the society to outcast anyone who acts different from the norm. They are not abnormal, they are normal but need help. Probably, they will not ask for it. They desperately need it. But we are all so busy judging them, that we don’t hear it or see it.

Let’s stop telling our kids that people who are alcoholics or addicted to any form of substance or maladaptive behavior are bad. Let’s tell them they may be lost. Let’s teach them we can help others find their way rather than telling them to leave them in the middle of nowhere. 

(Look out for this space to know more about Alcohol Use Disorder)

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