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The ultimate expression of self-identity.
In America, however, it is the greatest loss addicts suffer: individuality.
Addicts as a group are too often cast as amoral, lost souls and criminals. Yet this is so far from the truth, that it is staggering in the amount of harm this falsehood provokes.
The reality is that not all addicts are criminals, nor is addictive behavior in and of itself a morally wrong choice. Most importantly, criminalization is not the proper response to the genuine medical need that many addicts require. It is only when addicts reach a point of self-harm, which many do, that intervention iis needed - but it needs to be a humanitarian response, not a criminal one.
The reality of addiction must be understood, and it must start with understanding the individual addict mindset.