Is Addiction A Choice?

In light of recent events I’d like to start this blog post by sending my love to Demi Lovato and her family, I hope she gets the help that she needs.

This post is inspired by some of the ‘narrow-minded’ tweets that surfaced after the news about Demi spread, and whilst I refuse to use Demi’s hardship to boost my followers I think the debate is an interesting one. I will relate this post to my own experiences with addiction, and whether I think addiction is a choice.
The answer isn’t a black and white one for me, I think in some cases it can be a choice but in others its not. For instance, when I was 15 years old my group of friends all smoked so in order to impress them I lied and said I did too. When I was around them I started smoking in order to keep up my façade. At that time I wasn’t addicted because I’d go home and not smoke for days, I didn’t have cravings or any other signs of addiction I literally kept doing it to fit in. I kept doing it around anybody that smoked until I moved in with my Aunt where I could smoke everyday. Slowly but surely I became addicted and that continued even when I lived on my own. I craved cigarettes and if I didn’t have any I’d get irritable and anxious. This is a situation where my addiction was my choice – I had amble opportunity to stop myself from doing it, and once I started I had over a year to decide to stop before I became addicted. If it wasn’t for my own naivety and stupidity I could’ve stopped myself from having that addiction. Luckily enough I kicked that addiction in April 2017, but it could’ve been worse, I could’ve chose something much worse than smoking to make myself seem ‘cool’.

However, in some instances its not much of a choice. Mental illness can count for a lot, and whilst some of us can sit here and say we’ve battled mental illness without addiction, this is not the case for everyone. There’s also situations in abusive relationships where maybe your partner has made you try something, thus things have spiralled out of control from there. There are many situations where the element of choice is removed and this is why my answer isn’t very black and white. My Mum is a prime example of this. She was very mentally unwell and whilst she was never formally diagnosed it was clear to see. She eventually became an alcoholic because of her emotional turmoil and I think that when you’re that ill you lose the capability to make informed decisions.
I also want to talk about becoming addicted to alcohol. A lot of the tweets say things about choosing to have the substance, but what about in a society where drinking is normal? Personally I’ve always tried to steer clear of binge-drinking because of my own experiences, but for most, drinking is a normal part of their life. Yes they have chosen to try alcohol but when that ‘fun’ turns into addiction before a person can stop themselves, would you call that a choice? The same can be said for adrenaline junkies, gamblers, sex addicts. These are all things that we can do safely, and legally, but can easily become an addiction before the person can stop.

“Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.” – Albus Dumbledore

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