Patient Blogs | Substance Abuse
What I Wish People Knew About Substance Abuse
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If I never again have the debate about whether addiction/alcoholism is a choice or disease, it'll be too soon. Especially considering I see from both sides of the fence because I'm open-minded enough to. I'm also willing to listen and learn or hear someone out, rather than insist on being right.

While I lean toward the genetic/disease model, I completely understand and empathize with the arguments against it. All it took was a lady I knew who was dying from cancer, who was a recovering alcoholic say, "If I have to listen to one of you who aren't actively dying talk about how you have a disease one more second, I'm getting up and leaving.”

I mean, the woman had a point, right?

I certainly wasn't going to be the one to oppose her stance, at least not vocally at that moment. But years have passed since that day, and so has that woman, unfortunately. That being said, so have multiple other addicts/alcoholics who stood in that room that day -- and they didn't have cancer. Their lives were ended abruptly by drugs or alcohol. My point is, given an actual choice, I find it hard to believe it would've been the one any of them picked.

Not the woman with cancer and not the others with substance abuse issues.

Another misconception about substance abuse, one I've seen proven wrong time and time again, is that every addict and alcoholic is a hopeless cause.

This pessimistic philosophy that no addict or alcoholic can change their lives and put a drink or a drug down for good and recover -- it’s wildly false.

Unless, of course, you happen to be an addict or alcoholic who believes it about themselves. If you are, it's only because you decided to live out a self-fulfilling prophecy. You're just justifying giving up.

But understand: You have other and much better options than listening to those who doubt you or even what your head may tell you at times. Real help is out there, and people far worse off than you have bounced back in ways beyond their wildest dreams, to live out their lives they never would have deemed possible for themselves years or months earlier.

Does that mean everything will be miraculous and peachy as soon as you make that decision to change your life? No, it most certainly does not. Life still shows up. Friends and family members will still die. You'll still face struggle and hardship on a daily basis, most likely. Because this is, after all, still life.

However, with a sound mind, some inner peace, and some time removed away from a drink or a drug -- things will almost certainly get better. I mean honestly, how could they not? If all you ever do is put down a drink or a drug, at a bare minimum, your health will improve. When your health improves, so does your life.

So, give yourself a break and a chance today, I know I am.



Photo Credit: Alyssa Zettel / EyeEm via Getty Images

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Brian Brewington

Brian Brewington

Diagnosed since 2014

Brian Brewington has been on the journey of addiction recovery since 2014 and was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder in 2019. A 34-year-old writer and freelancer from Philadelphia, his work has been featured in KEF Audio Magazine, and he runs the Journal of Journeys publication on, where his writing first became popular. Brewington still sees a therapist and attends 12-step program meetings regularly. You can read more from him here.

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