I'm writing about drug addiction. Why, you probably ask? Are you a drug addict Luke? Have you suffered from the condition of addiction in your life and you want to cry out for help and social change? You would be right to ask these questions, I guess, but my answer to you and the reason for this piece is much more simplistic:
Drug addiction, and addiction in all forms, makes me dead unhappy.
I have never done a drug. Like, a drug, drug. I've drunk booze and I took one pull on a fag once which made me cough a lot, but I have never taken drugs. I feel vastly underqualified to even speak about addiction but then again I'm not here giving a lecture, I'm just trying to jog a few people's brains and create some kind of new awareness in someone. Change the trajectory of someone's opinion. I've never done a drug in my life.
Repetition is form of writing I love, and yet in the above paragraph it looks a little bit "he doth protest too much", slightly like I'm either trying to tell you I am an addict a bit, or that I'm properly trying to convince you I'm not. Neither of these are the case, I'm just not an addict. So don't worry Mum, don't worry Dad. It's nothing like that.
A big bit of my life is centred around mental health. Not as such my own (although maybe it should be because I've just quit my job to become a freelance writer (why not hire me for all of your written communication needs?) and I feel things could get pretty stressful) but the general topic. The idea that everyone has a quality of mental health - not just people with mental health 'problems' - is fascinating and interesting and really quite scary. I love the fact that the human mind is so fragile but so complicated and wonderful that things - no matter how big or how small - can change a frame of thought for better or for worse. It's something I think about a lot during my day-to-day.
Drug addiction hurts me because it's so utterly heartbreaking to see someone destroy themselves. It's that simple. Or no, actually, it's not that simple. Drug addiction hurts me because it's so utterly heartbreaking to see someone with a disease so misunderstood destroy themselves. There's a big difference.
Like a disease of the body, addiction is a disease of the mind. It's mental health, that's what it is. It is also completely and entirely misunderstood by so many people in the world. You can't see it, so it isn't real. It's easy to ignore and simple to forget. Let the druggies rot, they're bringing it on themselves.
The idea that people who take drugs bring it on themselves is complicated, I do concede. On the one hand, these people are going out, they're buying a big bit of drugs, they're taking the big bit of drugs and they're then being on the big bit of drugs. That's the human process. They're doing that. No one else is forcing them, that much is true. On the other hand, there's the 'weakness' part.
The weakness part is super hard to write about. Calling a large, vulnerable part of society weak is a strangely tough thing to do (damn you to hell, conscience!) The reason for that is the part of the mind that tries to convince you weakness is a bad thing. That weakness is something to be ignored and brushed under the carpet. Yet, weakness isn't bad. I mean, ideally it's not good, like some internet memes will try and tell you, but it's not bad. It's just different. It's fine. It's socially frowned upon. Wrongly.
Weakness is all completely subjective I suppose. Some people will no doubt disagree with me using the term 'weakness' because of how it feels. Yet the way I see it is that as long as we avoid calling health issues 'weakness' then we're not truly, really facing up the stark, fierce reality of the disease. It's easier to process and throw away if we decide to sugar-coat right over the nasty parts. And that's merely the linguistics of it, not the actuals of the situation.
There's many trains of thought in relation to helping treat drug addiction. Of which, again, I'm not an expert so I won't try and be one, but it seems like there is a disgusting and horrifically low level of treatments whatever the course of action across the whole of the U.K. You can argue for or against many types of treatment but the fight, right now, should be towards acknowledging that there are people in society that aren't being helped when they're unwell. However tough it sounds, if we just ignored people with cancer, dementia or Alzheimer's there would be intense scrutiny, uproar and people wouldn't take it. Rightly so.
The stigma isn't helping, but neither are the authorities. Whilst we still peddle the idea (through an incredible dearth of constitutional challenge) that people who abuse substance do it purely for the fun, for a laugh, we will never see a change in the common person's perceptions. We're one of the leading countries in the Western world but we are still so, so far behind where we ought to be when it comes to treating those less fortunate with the respect and compassion that they so richly deserve. Nay, so richly need.
There is also a very real effect on the body that substance addiction causes. I'm not going to talk about this but it is worth mentioning and acknowledging. The damage is done on so many levels. Body and mind are but a couple.
I don't know the final answer, the last solution. Chances are that there isn't a big, huge solution somewhere that will stop anyone becoming addicted to anything, ever again. Maybe this is the reason society leaves some behind: it's all a bit hard work isn't it? Let's concentrate on the people who can thrive on their own. Anyone who needs help can fall behind. Well I'm sorry but that's not a world I want to live in.
There's a really great movement at the moment where people are becoming aware and conscious of mental health as a serious, genuine health topic. The Lad Bible have recently and fantastically started a campaign to raise awareness of mental health in men. There seems to be an exciting level of commitment to this of late, but we shouldn't just categorise all mental health as depression. There's so much we can do to help so many. There are people, social platforms, Government, celebrities and corporations that can help much more than they're doing. It's the people that we need to be looking out for, so let's try and change the face of the perceptions of addiction so that we can help, not ignore. Be compassionate and thoughtful, not ignorant and passive. Be the change you want.