Addiction Awareness Week

More than 64 per cent of adults know someone who is ‘struggling with an addiction’, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by The Forward Trust to mark Addiction Awareness Week. Half of the 2,137 respondents, however, said that they still lacked understanding of the condition.

A group of charities including The Forward Trust, Phoenix Futures, FAVOR and the Kaleidoscope Project have also launched the awareness-raising Taking Action on Addiction campaign at a high-profile event hosted by Ant and Dec, with a keynote speech by The Duchess of Cambridge. ‘Addiction is not a choice,’ she told the event. ‘None of us are immune, yet it’s rarely discussed as a serious mental health condition and seldom do we take the time to uncover and fully understand the root causes.’

Duchess of Cambridge: ‘Addiction is not a choice.’ Photography by Casey Gutteridge

Recognising what lies beneath people’s struggles with substances can help to ‘remove the taboo and shame that sadly surrounds it’, she stated. ‘As a society we need to start from a position of compassion and empathy. We need to value and prioritise care and support, helping to restore and connect individuals who are clearly suffering, to the people around them.’ The event also heard calls for more support for children and families, and for more openness in talking about substance use issues.

The event represented the start of ‘ending the stigma around addiction’, said Forward Trust chief executive Mike Trace. While addiction was often triggered by childhood experiences, anxiety, loneliness or isolation it remained one of the only mental health conditions ‘where the person suffering with it is blamed’, he stated. ‘This lack of awareness of the true causes and scale of addiction in society means that too many people hide their addiction away and do not ask for help early enough. We need to change this. We need to drive awareness of what addiction is, understand how it impacts people, families, children and communities so we can help people living with it get the support and treatment they need for long term recovery.’

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