I am very lucky to have a life as incredible as mine and I am grateful for this. However, I have often felt that my life was falling apart and that it was entirely my fault. This is because of addiction. My addiction was exacerbated by its comorbidity with ADHD and several other disorders. It is something that I have conquered, but it was not something that I was able to beat with willpower. It was out of my control and it was not my fault.
I know that addiction is an illness and that like other illnesses, though it can be kick-started by an individual’s decisions, it is something that befalls a person by chance, not by choice. An addicted person who cannot quit is not “lazy” and does not just need to “try harder”, they are a victim of an illness and they need treatment for this. Despite the fact that addiction is an illness, it is treated as a choice. It is stigmatized greatly.
I have experienced social exclusion and blatant discrimination due to this illness. I have been denied from numerous social groups because of my past addiction. When asked why I am not a member of these groups, the leaders have said that it was not because they did not like me as a person, not because I wouldn’t fit into their group, not because I have demonstrated poor character, but because of an illness that befell me. They say that this illness was a choice. They say that it is immoral to have this illness. They say that it is bad to associate with people who have had this illness in the past, even if they no longer have it.
It is appalling to me that I am denied friendship on the grounds of my health in the past, but people demonstrate their stigma against my illness every day. I am afraid to discuss this illness that I no longer have because of the reaction against it. I am afraid that I will be denied social and professional opportunities if I speak out about this illness, so I keep quiet. Even though this illness no longer has control over my life, the stigma against it does.