A woman walking outside in the cold

There's No 'Look' to Having an Addiction


Allow me to paint you a picture of two different people.

The first is a woman living in a beat up old house. There are needles lying on the floor and no furniture. She can’t function without drugs in her system. All she does all day is use and try and find more drugs.

The second person is a college student at a state university. She comes from an upper middle class family, is active on her campus and plans to teach. She goes out to party a lot and uses alcohol and pills to get through. But she maintains a 3.5 GPA and puts herself together each morning.

Which one has an addiction?

Most of you, I assume, would easily say the first one. However, the correct answer is both. But we as a society are taught to see them through very different lenses. One is a “junkie.” The other? Just a stressed college kid who hasn’t learned limits yet. The truth is though, they both have an addiction problem. And they both deserve validation and help. I know because I am the college student. And I am an addict. I can’t keep track of how many people have told me my addiction doesn’t count. That I’m just a college student. That until I overdose, it doesn’t matter. But that’s just not true. A person with an addiction is a person with an addiction.

What I’ve had to learn is that nobody but me gets to decide whether or not I have an addiction. In fact, I’m grateful I recognized it early, so I can get help.

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction and need help, you can call SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

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