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5 Reasons Why The Hopeless Portrayal of Addiction In the Media Is Wrong

Hollywood seems to love centering plots around “drug abuse” since the highs and lows of addiction seem to add a touch of drama to any show or movie. Unfortunately, the same plots that keep audiences enthralled do little to help heal the pain of addiction in those who truly need help. For this reason, it is important to dispel the myths generated by the hopeless portrayal of addiction in the media by recognizing these fundamental truths about substance use disorders and the possibilities offered through recovery. Hitting Rock Bottom Isn’t Necessary Watch any movie that focuses on drug abuse, and you are likely to see actors portraying some of the worst moments in their character’s lives such as having their marriage partner walk out or dealing with a friend dying from an overdose. While it is true that some people do have to hit rock bottom to reach out for help, the majority of people don’t. In fact, seeking help for addiction before you hit your lowest point makes it easier to begin rebuilding your life. “Normal” People Deal With Addiction The media loves drawing attention to unsavory characters such as shady drug dealers or wild and crazy rock stars. However, it’s just as likely that the neighbor next door who waves hello at the mailbox is dealing with an opiate addiction or your carpooling coworker is struggling with alcoholism. People often get caught up in addiction just as they are dealing with deep pain or a desire to be a good person, and normalizing the face of addiction is important for ensuring that these people feel comfortable seeking treatment. Sober Lifestyles Are Actually Fun The internet is full of images of celebrities with drinks in their hands or promoting a party lifestyle that often features drugs as a form of recreation. You might have also seen movies where a character faces getting sober with all of the excitement one might have as they head to the gallows. Fortunately, sober lifestyles are actually quite exciting since people find new ways to keep themselves stimulated while they are in treatment. After they leave treatment, sober living homes and other community organizations keep the fun going by providing an atmosphere where fun, sober activities such as swimming and socializing are encouraged. Long-Term Sobriety Is Possible Television and movie characters tend to get caught up in a never-ending cycle of addictive behavior, and relapse is portrayed as inevitable. Staying sober is a lifetime endeavor, but it is possible to prevent relapse by taking a strategic approach to avoid potential triggers that tempt a person to use drugs or alcohol again. Over time, sobriety does get easier to maintain, and many people find that they are able to recover without turning their treatment center into a revolving door by simply surrounding themselves with people who value sobriety. When you have personal experience with addiction, watching how it is portrayed in the media or Hollywood can be unsettling. The great news is that you can do your part to reverse these misconceptions by simply living a life that represents all that is true about battling addiction and engaging in recovery advocacy. Whether you support a friend’s sober lifestyle or seek help for yourself, raising awareness about the hope that comes with addressing addiction is the best thing you can do for a better society.

Robert Hunt blogs on addiction and recovery. You can follow him @RecoveryRobert.


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