Anne Hathaway was recently nominated for an Oscar for her performance in "Rachel Getting Married". It is the story of a young woman battling addictions. A few years ago Sandra Bullock played a similar role in "28 Days". The makeup artists gave both of these beautiful women the same "look" to appear dissipated and beaten by their addictions. Their hair looked as if it had been cut by hedge-trimming shears, and they were pale and wan. I guess it would be easy if we could recognize people who are having difficulties with addictions, just by looking at them, but we can't. They are just like us, and there but for the grace of God goes any one of us.
I feel desperately sorry for people who have fallen into the trap of addictions. I think it would be very easy to do. When I was in high school, I had two close friends whose mothers had problems with alcohol. My friends' mothers looked just like all the other mothers, except they were not. They were altered by substance abuse. Who knows what caused it. Bad marriages, perhaps. Disappointment in life. Boredom. Who ever knows...
Neither of my friends could invite school mates home after school. They could never explain their mothers' bizarre behavior, and they were always ashamed.
I have had friends who have battled alcoholism or substance abuse and have managed to pull themselves out of it. One friend of mine just celebrated a milestone "birthday" of sobriety, and I was honored to be invited to her "cake celebration". I knew her "when" and I loved her then, as I still love her now. Just after she attained her sobriety, she paid me a visit to make amends for any of the things she had done to hurt me while she was drunk. I knew it was important to her, so I didn't have the heart to tell her that even while she was drunk, she had never done anything to hurt me. But some people can be very hurtful while under the influence of substance abuse, and often they're not aware of it until much later. Long-term alcohol use is one of the main causes of paranoia, which causes unusual behavior on the part of the addict.
"I said what!? I did what!? Oh, Gawd, why did I do that!?"
I think it's very important not to be judgmental of people who, for whatever reason, have become addicted to either drugs or alcohol -- at least until we walk in their shoes. It can happen to anyone. And it's not an easy thing to beat. Some people never do, while others are able to quit cold turkey. And alcohol withdrawal is second only to heroin withdrawal in its severity.
But don't look for their bad haircuts to try and recognize them. They're you and me -- they're us.