On the outside, Amber Valletta is the image of perfection. She’s a model, an actress and an activist. But on top of that, she recently spoke up publicly about her inner struggle with drug addiction. In a video that was released over the summer for MindBodyGreen, Valletta came clean and talked openly about addiction and her experience in it. Her speech, “How I Live With Addiction Every Day,” is both powerful and poignant. Here are five takeaways from her speech that can help all of us obtain a better understanding of addiction.
1. Admitting Really Is the First Step
They say that the first step towards recovery is admitting that there is a problem. Valletta’s speech helps to reinforce this idea. Coming out about her addiction to the world makes her addiction real--not just for her but for everyone else as well. Naming her relationship with drugs as addiction provides her with the compassion and support she deserves and needs while forcing accountability in her own recovery. Being ashamed of an addiction and hiding it is no way to improve a struggle with addiction. Valletta’s speech shows that accepting your struggle with addiction as a part of a your history is a necessary step to a sober and self-loving future.
2. Genetics Impact Addiction
Addicts often feel that their addiction is a weakness rather than an illness. Valletta’s speech reminds us that genetics play a big role in a person’s predisposition for addiction. Addicts do not always have the same tools available to them to resist substances that everyone else has and sometimes this truth goes all the way down to an addict’s genes.
3. The Present Moment Should Be Embraced
As Valletta points out in her speech, we live in a culture of distraction. It seems as though many of us do the things we do in an effort to avoid the present moment. Indulgences and addictions are often planted into our lives this way--through a need for distraction or a need to get away from ourselves or the present moment. The present moment should instead be embraced and quiet times should be cherished.
4. Environmental Factors Are Influential
An addict’s environment can be shaky territory. Choosing to use or not use is a decision that the individual makes but Valletta points out that industries and environments that accept or even glamorize drug use can create an even greater struggle for an addict. Perspective is everything. The more common substance use is in any given environment, the more normal it begins to seem to everyone involved.
5. Willpower Alone Isn’t Always Enough
There are always stories of addicts who are able to quit cold turkey. People who can separate themselves from addiction based on willpower alone. However, that amount of strength is not always enough--in fact, it often isn’t. Recovery is a journey that usually requires the support of family members, friends, colleagues and community members. It often requires the help of a therapist, a medical professional and sometimes medication. Addicts should not be expected to reach recovery by their own willpower alone.