Trust us when we say that addiction is not an easy thing to deal with, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely impossible to beat! There are people out there who have seen just how powerful addiction can be but are looking to start a dialogue about it. Addiction consumes a person’s life and completely manipulates a person into becoming something they are not. A lot of people treat addiction as a choice, but it’s not. We tend to see substance abuse as something someone willingly gives into. Though the initial first decision for a person to use is their choice, the decisions to use afterward are hardly their own. Addiction is a disease, but not many people realize this. Thankfully, there are people out there who are looking to educate the masses on the subject of addiction and put an end to the stigma surrounding it. And what’s the best way to help educate others in this day-and-age? TED Talks! Today, we’re going to discuss people who have given incredible TED Talks on addiction and how they are trying to help educate others

Johan Hari – Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong

Johan Hari is a well-known British/Swedish writer and publicist whose works mainly discuss topics on depression and addiction. In his TED Talk, Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong, Hari discusses how our current view on addiction is a huge problem. He talks about how he’s seen people struggle with addiction and get shamed for their actions. Hari points out the fact that that kind of mindset on addiction is only going to push people further into addiction because of neglect. We as a society unintentionally, and sometimes intentionally, cast shame on those people who actively struggle with substance abuse. Hari has seen people close to him struggle with substance abuse which could be a big indicator as to why he has become a massive advocate for change when it comes to education on addiction. 

Claudia Christian – How I Overcame Alcoholism

Actress Claudia Christian gave this incredible TED Talk at the London Business School, sharing her decade long battle with alcohol. She talks about how she didn’t even realize how addicted she was to alcohol when she noticed she was always the last one at the bar. Claudia discusses just how hard it is to be completely clean when it comes to recovery. She says she’s tried many different types of therapy and forms of addiction recovery, but she still relapsed around 20+ times. The actress points out the fact that she wasn’t even abusing alcohol because she was depressed or going through a hard time, she was drinking because she became physically and mentally dependent on alcohol. When she tried to cut cold turkey one more time, she started suffering from seizures and had to be put into medical detox. She is now sober and has since started a dialogue on alcohol addiction, shining a light on an otherwise dark subject. 

Tara Conner – Recover Out Loud

Former Miss USA 2006, Tara Conner is someone that has struggled with addiction for most of her life. She has struggled with rough family life and loss at a very early age, which she says are some of the biggest reasons why she developed addictive habits. Since the young age of 14, she was led down a dark, self-destructive path that led straight to addiction. With such a rough upbringing, she was surrounded by people who reinforced and even encouraged her addictive habits, which later led to a nasty addiction to cocaine and morphine later in life. She makes the point that she “didn’t know what she was doing” because her surroundings told her that her addictive habits weren’t bad. She didn’t know any better and the education she received on addiction was nothing but uninformative. The problem she faced was a huge lack of understanding when it came to her addiction. Addicts are often thrown in jail or chastised for their behaviors. She emphasizes the fact that addicts do not need to be held captive, they need to be helped with long-term recovery. Unfortunately, Conner is well known for being the “Miss America who turned out to be an addict”, but she points out the fact that that is all people think of her, even though she is not celebrating 10+ years in sobriety. This just shows how overwhelming the stigma around addiction has become. 

Clare Pooley – Making Sober Less Shameful

Clare Pooley, a British blogger/novelist, was once diagnosed with breast cancer and told everyone about it. However, when it came to her decision to give up alcohol, she told no one. Why is that? Why did she feel the need to keep her sobriety a secret, but not something as sensitive as breast cancer? That is exactly what her TED Talk is about! She realized that she felt ashamed and embarrassed at the idea of having to tell people she didn’t drink alcohol anymore. This is because most people cast massive amounts of shame on addiction. However, this is not necessarily their fault. Our society has normalized drinking to such a degree that we often don’t know what to think when we hear about people who struggle with addiction. If someone tells you “I don’t drink.”, you may not know how to react because your perception of addiction is negative. Rather than applauding the person for their decision to stop drinking, we instantly go to the “did you have a problem?” mindset. She says we need to celebrate people who stop drinking, not shame them. The more shame we cast on addiction, the less likely people will want to become sober. This can create a massive issue for those people who are already struggling with addiction by shaming them out of sobriety. 

If you haven’t already, check out these awesome TED Talks and help spread education on addiction. Let’s work together to end the shame and stigma around addiction. 

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