Addiction: Support Not Shame It is a sad fact that addiction is all around us in society. The substance-related deaths of a number of people in the public eye recently has brought this to the fore. It is often hidden but we will all know someone who is an addict, whether they are addicted to substances, such as drugs and alcohol, or behaviours, for example gambling and self harm. Addiction can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. If we look beyond the stereotypical depictions of the ‘down at heel’ addict, we will also recognise the many people who appear to be functioning at work and at home but who are deeply affected by their addiction and possibly on the road to further difficulties. Anyone can be an addict. It does not hinge on your salary, job, age, race or upbringing. The fact that addiction is a disease of the brain makes it a complicated beast to deconstruct. There are, however, certain risk factors. Psychological issues relating to stress and depression, a person’s genetic disposition, as well as exposure to physical / sexual / emotional abuse or drug addiction at a young age all have the capacity to increase someone’s chances of becoming an addict. Sometimes we can be quick to judge those suffering from dependency. It’s important to remember that addiction is an illness. It may not seem obvious but the stigma and shame felt by addicts can drive them further into self-abusive behaviour as a coping mechanism. This can have the damaging circular result of greater addiction leading to greater shame, leading to greater addiction and so on. It's essential to break this cycle to help the addict address their problem. They need to know and feel that they have your support not your judgement. Getting people with addiction into treatment can be a challenge. The removal of stigma and shame is important to empower people struggling with addiction to come forward. Addiction support and understanding can be a crucial early step and precursor to their eventual recovery. For more information on addiction and the steps to recovery get in touch with Broadway Lodge.