• Question: why do you think addicts are a bit ignored in our society? I feel like they are seen as scary and selfish instead of vulnerable and victims of their mental disorder, why?

    Asked by mv to Claire on 13 Jun 2018.
    • Photo: Claire Melia

      Claire Melia answered on 13 Jun 2018:

      Hi, thanks for asking this. I saw this question in the chat this morning and just didn’t get time to ask it, so thanks for submitting it here! To some extent, yes they are ignored by society. However, when we do talk about those with alcohol issues then it’s often very stigmatising. So is it better to talk badly about people than to not talk about them at all? Or does talking (even negatively) give a chance to change the conversation and perceptions that we have?

      I think a large aspect of this idea of these individuals being ‘scary and selfish’ is because people don’t understand it. Many people drink alcohol in moderation, so for some people it just doesn’t make sense as to why some people are addicted. Also, when people are addicted, then it affects their judgement and behaviour. Many people act in ways that most rational people would not. Alcohol becomes more important than anything else; food, family, friends, anything, and this can lead to bad decisions. So there is an element of the alcohol controlling the person and they act in ways that we would consider irrational or selfish. People see these individuals as out of control and not sensible or rational, which can be quite scary!

      However, if you sit down and chat with someone who has alcohol issues you do realise that they are still human beings. They can often recognise that their behaviour is irrational and that they want to change, it’s unfortunately just not that simple. I think if people had the chance to sit down with those with alcohol issues it would break down this ‘us’ vs ‘them’ barrier that our society has created. I think it’s largely a fear of the unknown and we need to speak about those with alcohol use issues and their experiences in order to start changing these negative perceptions.

      I hope this answers your question. Really great to hear such an open question, it sounds as though you have the right way of thinking to work in this area!