Junior's parents, Rowdy's father, and others in their community are addicted to alcohol, and Junior's friend has bulimia.
"There are all kinds of addicts, I guess," Junior says. "We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make the pain go away." How does each character's addiction impact his or her life The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian?
I think that the impact of addictions help to bring out the basic idea that the formation of identity is a difficult process. Addictions in different people help to mirror Junior's own addiction to his sense of self. This "pain" within which Junior speaks is one whereby people must struggle to understand their own condition in the world. Junior's "addiction" is within his struggle to fully grasp who he is. This is an addiction that causes an existential pain whereby Junior is uncomfortable with who he is in his own conception of self and who he is on an external level. This is a pain that he seeks to alleviate throughout the novel. The people in Junior's life also suffer addictions to make their own place in the world or their own conception of self more bearable. Penelope's distinct division between the image the world sees and who she sees are two different elements, seeking some level of alleviation. The alcoholism that infects the people on the reservation is to help ease the pain of living a life that is so vastly different from what was intended or to help minimize the reality of living a life with no options. While Junior's addiction is one that finds an easing of pain, there is significant question whether these individuals will be able to find their own source of alleviation of pain in their predicaments.