Addiction is a struggle for people all around the world, according to the NCDAS 165 million Americans abuse alcohol, tobacco, and drugs every 30 days. NCDAS also reported that the death toll related to these addictions are a staggering 700,000 since 2000. There are countless people that struggle with addiction, but addiction is not always portrayed in the “right way.” We see in the media that nine times out of ten addicts are often shown as homeless, dirty, or poor. Addiction just doesn’t affect normal people…right? These portrayals, though sometimes true, do not show how large the scope is for addicts. 

For the sake of privacy, I will not be using any names in this post, however, I will say that I have had a close family member that has struggled with addiction. He was not a bum, he was not poor. He was a fully functioning member of my family. In fact, we did not even know the severity of his addiction until it was brought to light. The point is that the stereotypes that society sets on addicts are extremely generalized and untrue. Addicts are not bad people. Yes, sometimes they can be bad people, but it should not be concluded that just because someone is an addict does not mean that they do not deserve respect and understanding. 

One very recent portrayal of an addict that we see is in the new tv show “Euphoria.” The main character Rue (17) is an opioid addict, who has gone to rehab and is on her journey of sobriety. I feel like out of a lot of portrayals of an addict, Rue is the most accurate. This show offers a deeper look into the mind of an addict. What they will do to feed their addiction, what can happen after rehab, and even how relationships can be ruined through addiction. In contrast, the show Shameless has a very different look on addiction. I’m sure a lot of us are familiar with Frank Gallager and his journey through addiction. The way that the show portrays him is in much more of a negative light. He is often homeless, often aggressive, and often appears dirty and unhygienic. I have personally watched both of these shows and I have completely different views on each of these characters. 

3 TV Shows About Drugs, Addiction, & Mental Illness | Turnbridge 

On one hand, Rue has done some awful things and she is by no means a saint. But through her more “sympathetic” portrayal, I feel for her. I see that she is trying to get better and that she is going through so much internally. I feel sympathy for her, and I realize that addiction is not only hard on the ones around us, but on the individuals themselves. On the other hand, I do not sympathize with Frank. He is absolutely the stereotype of an addict. He is constantly doing things at the expense of others and shows little to no regret or remorse for his actions. I am sure that I am not the only one that feels this way about these characters. Yes, I know they are just fictional people on tv shows, but the stereotypes that surround one of the characters completely change my view on addicts. 

This negative look on addiction is harmful to many people. It is harmful to the addicts themselves as well as those around them. It creates this negative image that is not always true. I feel like when it comes to my family everyone was not always in support of our fellow family members’ addiction. But it is also not fair to come to conclusions about someone just because that is what the media teaches us. He was struggling in his own ways, and instead of feeling ashamed because of some of the stereotypes that surrounded him, he deserved to feel supported. 

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