The Addiction Hierarchy

I have worked in the field of addictions for a number of years now, and something that I hear time and time again when discussing rehab is: “will there be drug users there? I don’t want to mix with drug users” or “is it going to be full of middle-aged housewives with a drinking problem”. Every time I hear something along these lines, the addiction hierarchy slaps me in the face. Why is it that within addiction a person can feel like they are superior to another person who is going through the same thing? At the end of the day, regardless of the substance of choice, addiction destroys lives.

The substance of choice is, in part, down to circumstances. The middle-class housewife may have no idea how to get hold of heroin, but they know how to get Valium from the GP, the street junkie is not likely to be able to afford a drug such as cocaine (I am deliberately being stereotypical here to prove my point). However, the fact is these two people are likely to be experiencing the same emotions, the same powerlessness, the same sense of shame and guilt. They are also likely to be exhibiting the same behaviours; lying to those around them, being deceptive and secretive, possibly experiencing financial troubles.

So if the way the addiction affects the person is the same, why should there be different treatment centres for different substances? The simple answer is there shouldn’t. Most addicts will find that if they listen to another addict’s story, but replace the other person’s substance of choice with their own, the shoe will fit. Therefore, there is a lot of support to be gained from speaking with those who are experiencing any kind of addiction. Who better to help you through than someone that knows how it feels?

Still not convinced? Let me know your thoughts below!

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