Role models play an enormous role in the lives of the majority of the world’s population because human beings tend to look at other people, believing their examples to be useful in decision-making. They often search for clues and courses they can use to navigate their own lives most efficiently. Such behavior is explained by many social learning theorists as an attempt to learn without any involvement or personal experience. It means that the observers can identify and follow the most advantageous decisions that have positive outcomes and omit negative ones. It is said that people learn from mistakes, but this does not mean that these mistakes are to be personally experienced; they can simply be observed. This can be treated as a developmental step in which individuals do not repeat mistakes but avoid them in following other people’s examples. In this framework, professionals consider that imitating as role models people who are successful at something makes the lives of their followers easier. Utilizing this approach, people save time and effort. However, in selecting the wrong role model and imitating it, followers tend to get into trouble. In addition, they can become disappointed in their selected example’s personal decisions and outcome. Today a lot of anonymous programs encourage addicts to have a supervisor and a role model who can help them to abandon their cacoethes and achieve a better future. However, professionals still argue whether drug users can be considered role models for other drug users. This paper will try to prove the fact that even though drug users can provide advice and motivate those who have just started their path of recovery, they should not be considered role models because in making a single mistake, they will do more harm than good.
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Some people believe that it is significant for those who are recovering from drug addiction to have some examples to follow. They expect a good role model to show them the path to success that has already been checked and proven to be useful. In this way, a person will be likely to avoid various treacherous obstacles. The first steps are especially difficult, which is why the main assistance is required at this stage. People copy a role model because they believe that they can benefit from imitation. Wishing to be like another person, they do their best to follow his or her example. Thus, it is critical to have a good role model because a poor one can affect recovery adversely and undermine all attempts to recover, preventing a person who has come close to building a successful life without any addictions from maintaining it.
All role models tend to have both a good and bad influence; that is why they are often heavily criticized for negative behaviors. This tends to become even more critical in the framework of drug addiction because drug users are vulnerable. Within the framework of anonymous groups, drug users are advised to stick with those who successfully achieve their goals and live without addiction for a long time. Newcomers and their counselors spend time together to support each other and recover. Such interaction is expected to be a great educational and motivating process. However, one more truth is that a person cannot be an ex-addict. In any particular situation, even those individuals who have lived without drugs for years can start using them again and affect their followers.
It is dangerous to overestimate and put too much faith in the value of a role model because, even though all people can make mistakes, when it happens to a role model, followers experience shock and depression. Moreover, seeing that the person they wanted to become has failed, they tend to lose their motivation and self-belief. As a result, newcomers who are just adapting to a new style of life and those who have followed one role model for a while maybe so traumatized that they may follow the object of their admiration back to drugs. Of course, the situation can be avoided—or at least improved—if they have realistic expectations but, in reality, people tend to exaggerate their value.
Interacting with drug users who have a strong recovery record helps others to make the right decisions and keep being motivated to struggle and achieve their desired goal. However, a role model should not be chosen only based on the fact that one is not addicted anymore. One’s ability to find happiness in recovery is also critical. Very often people who stop using drugs lose themselves and their sense of life. They cannot find out what they should do to be happy and satisfied with what they have. Even though such feelings can help a person to give up taking drugs, the feelings are equally likely to demotivate them, showing that life without addiction is no better than with it. It can be dangerous for those who have just started their path of recovery to interact with these role models. They do not initially provide bad advice, as they continue fighting with their addiction, but their attitudes are likely to become infectious. Moreover, it is just a matter of time until they will revert to drugs again, or even commit suicide. Spending time with such people and the atmosphere around them, a recovering addict may become reluctant to achieve such outcomes and can abandon the desire to recover.
Still, it is not possible to deny that role models can be beneficial. They can offer good advice based on their positive experience and stimulate followers to work harder. They can show that life without addition is much better than with it. It is inspiring for newcomers who face challenges in recovery to see that those who had similar problems were able to achieve success and build a fulfilling and happy life without drugs. All in all, these role models can be great examples in many areas of life. However, all these positive aspects that can be perceived during a long period can be derailed by one negative outcome.
Thus, it can be concluded that even though drug users with a strong recovery record can benefit others, they should not be considered role models. Examples can improve the self-efficacy of newcomers and prove that it is possible to start a new life, free from drugs, but only one mistake made by them can ruin the lives of their admirers. Those who have recently stopped using drugs are extremely vulnerable and require support. It is better for them to come to know about people who have succeeded but in such a way that they do not interact much and their cases remain anonymous to everyone. Focusing on a particular person, drug users will take to him or her. It is better to prevent adverse outcomes, as they are likely to affect followers more than any positive aspect of interaction.