When it comes to addiction myths, most people think of the urban addict. The urban addict is the dirty, homeless, dopefiend walking the streets in the hopes of finding a fix. While those addicts certainly exist—and several of us here at 449Recovery were among them—not all addicts and alcoholics fit the stereotype.
Especially today, more and more people are falling victim to drug addiction in non-urban areas. It used to be that the suburbs and rural areas were considered a safe haven from the ravages of addiction, but there are a lot of factors keeping that from being true.
Having Money Dooms/Protects Potential Addicts
You need money to get high. In one way or another, drugs cost something, and that something can always be translated into a dollar amount. It is unpalatable, but everything has its price. In rural areas, this might translate to the effort and legal risk to gather the materials to make meth, for instance. In suburban areas, there are more people, and more people makes the risk of getting caught go up, but these areas also tend to mark a middle point between urban and rural, making sure there is a constant flow of drugs in both directions.
“But I never had money, and I still got high,” someone might say. Perhaps not, but money translates in different ways. It might mean doing certain “things” for certain people, in return for a certain product. An actual exchange of physical money may not occur, but it is an unnecessary step in the transaction.
Lack of Enforcement Means No Problem
One of the other addiction myths is because urban areas generally have higher crime rates (which nearly always are a byproduct of drug addiction and alcoholism) than the suburbs or rural areas, those latter two areas do not have problems with addiction.
This just isn’t so. While it is true that law enforcement and resources tend to go to areas of higher population density, that does not exclude the less densely populated areas from the problems themselves. The reasoning goes that resources are provided to the areas most in need of them, and therefore, if resources aren’t needed, then a problem does not exist.
Again, this just isn’t so. The allocation of resources in enforcing drug laws does not mean that an area is free from the problem altogether. Actually, the opposite is true. Drug manufacturers are more likely to go to areas where they are less likely to get caught, and with fewer resources available being spent on enforcement in rural areas and the suburbs, it is a safer gamble—especially considering the lack of competition from other dealers and/or manufacturers.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you live in a big city, a wealthy suburb, or in an area so rural that it takes a 20-minute drive to get to your neighbor. Your dollar is just as valuable as anyone else’s.
The Most Dangerous Addiction Myths Feed on Denial
Of course, addiction myths are often fueled by denial—whether that denial is intentional or not.
If Johnny is staying up for days on end, losing weight, jittery, and showing all the classic signs of crystal meth addiction, it is probably because he has a crystal meth addiction. Believe it or not, but there are a lot of people who say, “Well, that can’t happen to my Johnny. We moved out here to get away from all that.”
That is the problem, though. Drug addiction follows people wherever they go. It doesn’t mater how wealthy or poor, how educated a person is, or their background. Addiction finds, and it kills, and addiction myths are the accomplices.