Why Addiction Stereotyping Can be Dangerous

The illness that is addiction is one of the most misunderstood in the world. In fact, many people do not even see it as an illness despite it being recognised as such by health experts. There are many who believe that those who develop addiction have done so through choice. They fail to realise that those who abuse substances such as alcohol or drugs have little choice over their use; these individuals have no control over their urges and cannot stop even if they want to.

With so much negative press around addiction, it is hardly surprising that most people have their own opinion of what it is and of who is affected by it. Negative stereotypes lead most individuals to assume that all alcoholics and drug addicts look and act in a certain way. However, the truth is that addiction can affect anyone, no matter where they come from or how old they are.

Why is Negative Stereotyping of Addiction Dangerous?

There are many reasons it is dangerous to stereotype addicts, including the fact that doing so can lead those affected by addiction to use it to justify their own behaviour. Those who do not fit the profile of the typical addict will often convince themselves they do not actually have a problem and will, therefore, continue with their addictive behaviour regardless of the consequences.

Stereotyping can also cause resentment and negative feelings, which can result in mistrust and confusion and ultimately destroy lives.

What Does the Stereotypical Addict Look and Act Like?

It is easy to make assumptions about those affected by drug and alcohol addiction, but in truth, most people who have these illnesses do not actually fit the profile. If you have no experience of addiction, you may be forgiven for thinking that all alcoholics:

  • drink all day long and are hardly ever sober
  • drink cheap spirits on the streets from bottles wrapped in a brown paper bag
  • drink as soon as they wake up in the morning
  • are estranged from their family or are guilty of domestic abuse towards loved ones
  • do not have a job
  • drink alone and become verbally or physically aggressive when under the influence
  • do not take care of personal hygiene and wear old or cheap clothing
  • will be unable to remember huge portions of time
  • neglect their children and other responsibilities in their lives
  • come from a poor background or suffered abuse as a child.

You might also be forgiven for believing that all drug addicts:

  • are from a deprived background and are known to police
  • inject drugs down dark alleyways
  • have a criminal background or are part of a criminal gang
  • steal from their loved ones
  • are unable to hold down a job
  • are estranged from their family members and live on the streets
  • are dirty and unkempt and do not take care of their personal hygiene.

These characteristics of the ‘typical’ addict can lead most people to be unable to recognise when someone is actually affected. In many instances, those struggling with alcohol or drugs will look just like everyone else. It is often the case that from the outside, these individuals appear to have everything; they will have nice homes, plenty of money and families that love them. It is only those closest to them who will be able to see that they are in need of help.

What is a High Functioning Addict?

The truth is that many of those affected by drug and alcohol addiction can function quite normally, and nobody but their closest family and friends will be aware they have a problem. Just because somebody does not drink as soon as they wake up or even drink every day, does not mean that this person cannot be addicted. Addiction is not about the type of substance being abused or even the frequency with which the person abuses it; it is more about the person’s lack of control when he or she does use it and whether their use is having a negative impact on their own life and the lives of those around them.

Overcoming Addiction

If you believe that you or someone you love may be in danger of developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Here at Recovery.org.uk, we work hard to put those who need addiction services in touch with the facilities that provide them.

We have contacts in all parts of the UK, and we will make sure that you are matched to the most suitable treatment provider based on the severity of your illness and your circumstances. For more information on our service and how we can help you, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us now. We are waiting to take your call.

close help
Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0203 553 0324