How Fictional Depictions of the Mob Reveal the True Story of Substance Abuse

If you ever watched a single episode of the series The Sopranos, you would know that it centered on the life and times of a fictional Italian American family out of New Jersey who had close ties to the mob. While it is easy to be drawn into the sordid tales detailing how underground operations can control the drug trade, politicians and even the waste management industry, one might easily overlook how substance abuse was also an underlying theme. Various characters in the show checked themselves into substance abuse programs and fought to keep their plights with drug use a secret from their friends and family. Although completely based on fictional characters, The Sopranos did manage to address many of the preconceived notions that people have about what substance abusers truly look like and how some are able to hide their addictions from those closest to them.

The Usual Suspects

From stories told in shows like The Sopranos, and even reality television series like Mob Wives, many believe that those who are most likely to be in control of the illegal drug trade are also least likely to be personally affected by it. The same people who make backroom deals are actually putting themselves and their families in danger of becoming addicted. Sometimes, it is not the person directly in charge of each transaction that will eventually need counseling for substance abuse, but it may end up being their spouse, child, nieces or nephews, siblings, or even their parents.

Dispelling Stereotypes

Although many in the Italian American community in particular were not happy with the way that these shows depicted mob family structures, and believed that they fed into negative stereotyping, the truth is that valid information about the prevalence of substance abuse can be gleaned by the examples they posed. A person who has absolutely no knowledge or interest in illegal street drugs might be enticed to try them when faced with a stressful situation and nearly unlimited access to these substances. People themselves stereotype substance abusers, generally seeing the end result instead of the journey that led them astray. By the time a substance abuser’s life is out of control, their families will have already been through many trying times with them.

Helping Those Who Need the Most Care

The sooner that people begin to stop being judgmental about substance abuse, the easier it will be for addicts to admit their faults. Nobody begins dabbling with narcotics because they believe that they will become addicted, lose their jobs and bring shame to their families. Instead, it is a general lack of knowledge that leads them to believe that they can control their illicit substance abuse and never become addicted in the first place.

Some substance abusers begin their battle with drug addiction before they have any idea of what they are truly putting in their bodies. Others are experienced adults who may be too arrogant to think that their actions will have real repercussions. In any event, if the people around them offer compassionate support and tough love, they will have a better shot at a life of sobriety.