Tag Archives: Addiction

Choice paradox

I’m writing this already angry as I’m in my first day of going cold turkey on the cigarettes for the second time in 2 years, so forgive me if I rage.

Today the government ‘announced’ how many people are on incapacity benefit and its successor because of drug and alcohol addiction or obesity. It didn’t announce how many are claiming this benefit because of learning difficulties, or because of back pain – that doesn’t grab headlines. Picking on alkies, druggies and fatties is fair game for the media and the public and the government knows it. Check out this Cameron quote:

“We are finding a large number of people who are on incapacity benefit because of drink problems, alcohol problems or problems with weight and diet. And I think a lot of people who pay their taxes and work hard will think: ‘That’s not what I pay my taxes for. I pay my taxes for people who are incapacitated through no fault of their own.”

How nice of him to anticipate what tax payers may think so they can make his argument for him. He can’t come out and say that people with severe issues with drugs, alcohol and obesity aren’t going to be given any money, because then people might complain about the extra number of homeless that could create, or the further burden on over-stretched families. Oh, but he’ll listen to the hoards of Daily Mail readers saying that these people choose to be this way and so they, the honest and never-ill taxpayers,  shouldn’t have to support their lifestyle.

Really? A choice, really? You think alcoholics choose to be alcoholics? You think that anyone chooses to become secretive, bloated, paranoid, unemployed,, friendless and with no family becuase it’s so much fun and they get at most £94.25 a week?

And drug addicts choose to be addicts, not users, right? You think people choose septicemia, visible track marks, a constant worry about supply, worry about police raids, blackouts and potential overdose because it’s such a happy lifestyle?

You think people choose to be 500lbs (35.7 stone) with diabetes, heart disease, breathing issues, skin infections and the constant judgement and disgust of other people because hey, fat people are always jolly!

If people chose to be those things in the first place, if it was that easy as to be a choice, like I choose to put on red shoes and I choose to take the Tube today, then it would be as easy to unchoose it. To not choose it in the first place. To choose to be a recovering addict. and yet. The facts remain that breaking addiction is one of the hardest things to do. Because you’re a fucking addict.

An addict is very different ot a recreational user or even someone with a dependency. Addicts have different brain chemistry, deteriorated impulse control, and a physical dependency on the drug to feel and operate as ‘normal’. This isn’t some drunken lager lout getting to bevvied up one night and signing off on benefits the next day. This is someone who actively has to stop the brain and their body from needing – not in ‘I need a holiday’ kinda way but in a ‘I need air’ way – that substance. It takes time, therapy, sometimes other medication. It needs compassion.

And for those tiny percentage of claimants who are obese (it’s 0.1% of the total. 0.1%)? Many, many illnesses cause obesity, include hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, PCOS, and depression, and some medications can cause obesity. And yes, a lot of people are obese because they like fatty food and don’t move round enough. and this in turn can cause depression and more eating and breaking that cycle is just as hard as breaking an addiciton. But really, you’re going get all up on your high horse because 0.1% of claimants are obese?

These things, alcoholism, drug addiction, obesity – these aren’t choices. No one chooses that life. That lifestyle is something I wouldn’t wish on my bitterest enemy. So how dare you say that it’s a choice, and try to make it so that the baying public calls to get their incapacity benefit taken away. How dare you say that these alcoholics should be searching for work when it’s highly unlikely they’ll be able to keep down a job even if they are offered one? (Of course, some do, and some drug addicts have 9-5 jobs. Well done. They can cope. these people can’t.)

Can they physically work? No. Then they get incapacity benefit. That’s the only choice we have in a society that gives a shit about others.

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