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Trigger Warning: Addiction Recovery & Trauma

How we as society label, ostracise and ‘other’ recovering addicts has a huge impact on their recovery.

While looking at hysterectomy recovery videos, I stumbled upon addiction recovery videos – some people in active addiction; other people recovering addicts.

Wow! As a society, we really judge and ostracise addicts, including me. We call addicts “junkies”, “dronkie” and “tikkoppe”. I make jokes about “selling meth for a second stream of income”, not realising how triggering it can be since I’m sure people who follow me are actually addicts in recovery. I’ve been terrified of drugs my entire life because I have an addictive personality. Also drugs are seen as the worst form of addition when nicotine and alcohol actually cause the most deaths

During lockdown, I could barely go without an entjie and was putting myself in really dangerous situations in hindsight. I can’t imagine the amount of strength it takes to get clean, often with zero family support, bone-crushing pain, and especially when you think “you’re so deep in the hole that you can’t dig yourself back out – you might as well wait for death”.

How We Label Addicts vs How Their Addiction Started

We label addicts as people who “brought it on themselves” but listening to stories:
– I’d say about 90% of women who became addicts were offered “something” by an often abusive boyfriend only to be told afterwards what it was.
– Most addicts work in the hospitality industry and were given a tablet by a “friend” as a pick-me-up to help them make those two 12-hour shifts.
– And most disturbingly, many people slipped in the shower, got into car accidents, fell, had a slipped disc or C-section and were prescribed Oxycontin or Tramadol (I’ve been prescribed this 3 times), and not told how incredibly addictive they are. We all know that ’90s study where the risk of addiction of Oxycontin was swapped around – it said only 1% chance of becoming addicted, when it’s actually the opposite.

Addiction, Recovery and Trauma

Most addicts confessed the horrible things they did and took responsibility for pain caused while in active addiction to get a fix. Of course there are people in the world who never take responsibility for the trauma caused. And some people who “just tried it at a party”. But something we all need to remember is – the root of all addiction is trauma – whether abuse, poverty, neglect, loss – trauma is actually the “gateway drug”, often experienced by people who have no access to any form of counselling. And what all addicts have in common, rich or poor, is trying to escape that trauma.

So, if there are any recovering addicts reading this – you have an incredible amount of strength. The trauma wasn’t your fault. I don’t know how you did it. You deserve this beautiful life you’ve created for yourself. Please keep going.


If you or a family member are struggling with Substance Abuse & Addiction please seek help by contacting one of the organisations listed below.

Narcotics Anonymous South Africa (NA): Narcotics Anonymous South Africa (NA) is a non-profit organisation committed to creating a supportive community for individuals battling drug addiction.


Helpline: 088 130 0327

Alcoholics Anonymous South Africa (AA): Alcoholics Anonymous South Africa (AA) is a vibrant fellowship composed of individuals who are committed to overcoming their struggles with alcoholism and assisting others on the same path.


Helpline: 0861 435 722

South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG): The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is a renowned mental health support organisation in South Africa that is dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.


Helpline: 0800 456 789

What do you think?

Written by Kim Brandt

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