Over the past few years, as I’ve scoured the news on addiction, the issue of addiction to prescription painkillers has come up more and more. Today, this topic is all the rage, and as a consequence, many people who simply experience a physical withdrawal that they’d like to deal with and be done with, are now being classified as addicts. I have plenty of problems with the addict label even when applied to those who feel a desperation to get high and continue to use substances despite negative consequences – it’s bad enough to label them as powerless, diseased, and psychologically sentence them to a lifetime struggle with themselves – but to do the same to people who never even meet this description of an addict due to an episode of physical dependence caused by an innocent attempt to deal with physical pain? That’s a whole other level of reckless endangerment that I don’t mind describing as downright evil.
If you or a loved one is in this situation, I urge you to resist the addict label and resist the coercion to join 12-step groups or otherwise embrace the recovery culture – it will create a whole world of problems in your life that you should never have to deal with. Find a doctor who will privately detoxify you, and move on with your life – and don’t ever even take a look at conventional addiction treatment and support groups – you don’t need that garbage. In the meantime, take a look at Maia Szalavitz’s latest blog post on the difference between a simple case of physical dependence to a drug taken for legitimate medical reasons, and real cases of addiction, on Time Magazine’s website: