If you’re a person who is living with an addiction or if you know someone that is, getting help and support without feeling stigmatized can be a real challenge. However, what if addiction was viewed like another common and upsetting sickness: cancer. While both are certainly different, there are ways that they can actually be quite similar.
First of all, as Lisa Valentine notes in an article for the Star Tribune, “Cancer cells don’t announce their presence until enough have amassed to be felt, detected by tests, or cause pain. Likewise, addiction often has someone in its steel grips before they realize it.” This clarification is important because it illustrates that sometimes addiction can gain control over a person’s life without them realizing it immediately.
Genetics can also play a role in whether or not an individual is more likely to have addiction, in the same way that this can be a common link in cancer diagnoses. In fact, according to the American Psychology Association, genes can make up 50% of a person’s susceptibility to addiction. In this same way, there are some types of cancer that are more common based on genetics, or a person’s prognosis can be estimated based on their genes.
Just as with cancer, there are treatment options available to those living with addiction. It’s often a process, and one that requires a lot of time, energy and commitment, in the same way that cancer treatments are often lengthy and exhausting.
Unfortunately, both cancer and addiction have the risk of relapse, even many years later. Relapse education is an important and helpful way to manage this risk as it can help you to deal with triggers or setbacks in a healthy way.
At the end of the day, perhaps the most helpful thing to know is that addiction is more complicated than a series of poor decisions. It’s a serious mental health condition that needs professional support and understanding from friends and family.
Feature image MadalinIonut