Imagine being trapped in a room, with no windows, no doors, no escape. You're in this dark place and you have no idea how to get out. You're scared, confused, and just want it all to be over. You keep trying and trying to feel happy in this place but you just can't. No matter what you do, you always feel hopeless.

This feeling is why people abuse substances. They feel that their only escape is by forgetting where and who they are. Drugs and alcohol provide this for users. They become addicted to the feeling of forgetting.

The terms “drug addict” and “alcoholic” were created to describe people who are addicted to either drugs or alcohol, however, over time, the terms have transformed from informative to derogatory. People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol are seen as scummy lowlifes who have no value to this world. The truth is that these people have an illness and are in serious need of help. It is time to change how we perceive drug addicts and alcoholics so they can receive the help they need rather than judgment from people who simply could not understand what they are going through.

As someone who has seen addiction firsthand, I know how hard these people struggle daily to feel like a human again. Their minds consume them with depression and anxiety. They think that their only escape from their unhappiness is the drugs and alcohol, but in reality, that is the fuel feeding this vicious cycle.

The worst part about having an addiction is that outsiders constantly put the blame on the victim rather than the disease itself. Put it in this perspective: imagine having lung cancer and everyone said: “Hey well you smoked cigarettes your whole life so you deserve this.” When a disease like cancer is the case, people seldom act this way toward the victim and are entirely sympathetic towards them. This is how we as a society should view addiction.

As a society we need to stop dehumanizing the victims of addiction. Just because someone uses drugs or alcohol excessively does not mean they are less of a person; they are just lost. Addiction is a disease and not a choice. Although users make the initial decision to use the drugs they do not choose to become consumed by its devilish powers. We need to stop viewing them as criminals and start providing a helping hand.

So next the time you see someone struggling with addiction tell them they are not alone. Tell them there is help out there. Tell them you are there for them and will not judge them based on their addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction visit the website http://americanaddictioncenters.org or call 888-969-8640 for the help you or they deserve.

Together, we can change the narrative of drug addiction.