For a long time, alcohol was my best friend.

Hotfreypie used to drink a lot. Here's me with one of my favorites: a pint of Guinness. I used to justify my drinking by saying that because I didn't drink in the morning, I didn't have a problem. I wasn't sneaking around nips of alcohol. I never drank at work. I was just going through early 20-something growing pains. "I don't have a problem" became my credo.

But I did.

In lieu of tackling my mental health challenges head on, and facing my past trauma, I attempted to find solace in the bottom of the bottle. I abused alcohol, thinking that if I just had one more whiskey, I could forget about everything that happened to me.

It doesn't work that way.

Addiction is like other diseases due to the fact that addiction doesn't discriminate.

Mentions of drug use date back to biblical ties and ancient literature that goes back to 2240 BC. This is not something new in humanity. Nowadays, drug users are found in all occupations and professions, at all income and social class levels, and in all age groups.

No one is immune to drug use. That's what makes drug-use an equal-opportunity affliction.

Addiction in women is viewed as drug use in a special population. 70% of women in drug abuse treatment programs report histories of physical and sexual abuse. When it comes to alcohol, women tend to be solitary when abusing the drug. Unlike men, who tend to abuse alcohol in social settings, women uncork the bottle at home alone, using alcohol to self-medicate anxiety or depression.

Addictions of all times run rampant in society today. In United States, overdosing on pain pills is the number one cause of accidental death in 17 states. According to the 2012 annual report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Ireland has the third highest death rate in the European Union from heroin (and is in the top 4 countries when it comes to heroin use in the EU). Drug trafficking has skyrocketed in Central America, bringing violence, addiction, and corruption with it. Australia, when compared to other regions, has proved to have a high rate of opioid and cannabis dependence. Drug trafficking and consumption have become major issues in West Africa since the early 1900's. Between 2008 and 2011, Russia saw an increase in over 500,000 injecting drug users. Central Asia has an intravenous drug use that is four times the world average. South Koreans drink twice as much as Russians, and four times as much as Americans.

Yet, addiction is still stigmatized by many.

Old edicts of addiction being a character flaw or weakness still permeate social consciousness. Stigma is also among the myriad of reasons why there is so much social and legal discrimination against those with addictions. This can cause those suffering from addiction to not seek help. Stigma can cause individuals to view their addiction as being their fault, which is not the case. There are also consequences for an individual admitting that they have a problem because of this stigma. They could lose their job or their status within the community.

Even though the stigma against addiction runs deep, individuals can live wonderful lives in long-term recovery.

All people suffering from addiction need is help without prejudice, and a chance.

I was in the bowels of Tartarus. I rode on the back of Greyon with Dante. I was positive that there was no way out. I had fallen beyond redemption. Or so I thought. When I finally stood up, after what seemed like years of being spat on by life, I became reborn. I am the proverbial phoenix, rising through the ashes. Although I still have a way to go on my own journey, I will never, ever, be without empathy for those in the throes of addiction. I'm grateful for my therapist, whose been an infinite help in getting where I am today. Now, I tend to limit myself to one drink, or don't drink at all.

I believe that there is always a way out of the Inferno. Sometimes, all that is needed is a Virgil to guide the way.