Royals Kate Middleton Delivers Powerful Speech on Addiction: 'It Can Happen to Any One of Us' Working with addiction charities has been a focus of Kate's royal work over the past 10 years By Stephanie Petit Stephanie Petit Stephanie Petit is a Royals Writer/Reporter at PEOPLE. She has been with the brand since 2016 after graduating from The College of New Jersey and holding previous positions at Seventeen, CBS Radio and more. Follow the proud dog mom on Twitter at @stephpetit_ for the latest on Queen Elizabeth's corgis. People Editorial Guidelines and Simon Perry Published on October 19, 2021 06:39 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Kate Middleton on Tuesday. Photo: Beretta/Sims/Shutterstock Kate Middleton is lending her voice to an important cause. The royal mom helped launch her patronage The Forward Trust's "Taking Action on Addiction" campaign on Tuesday by delivering the keynote speech. Her speech highlighted the importance of tackling the misconceptions about addiction and its roots in early childhood experiences, another one of Kate's key causes in her royal work. The launch of the long-term campaign — which will work to improve awareness and understanding of addiction, its causes and scale in society to enable more people to ask for and receive help — coincides with Addiction Awareness Week (October 18–24). Kate Middleton arriving on Tuesday. Launching the Taking Action on Addiction Campaign she thanked those who shared their experiences of addiction with her as she met with beneficiaries of the charity as well as supporters with experience of addiction. "Addiction is not a choice," said Kate. "No one chooses to become an addict. But it can happen to any one of us. None of us are immune. It is all too rarely discussed as a serious mental health condition and seldom do we take the time to uncover and fully understand its fundamental root causes." Kate Middleton Recycled Her Famous L.A. Look from a Decade Ago — Compare the Then-and-Now Photos! She added, "The journey towards addiction is often multi-layered and complex. But, by recognizing what lies beneath addiction, we can help remove the taboo and shame that sadly surrounds it." "As a society, we need to start from a position of compassion and empathy. Where we nurture those around us, understand their journey, and what has come before them," added the duchess, who chose a red pleated skirt by Christopher Kane, tan pumps by Ralph Lauren and a DeMellier bag for the event. Speaking of her pride in being patron of The Forward Trust, Kate highlighted how the lockdowns and anxiety caused by the COVID-19 crisis have exacerbated the problem for many sufferers. "The pandemic has had a devastating impact on addiction rates. And families and children are having to cope with addiction in greater numbers than ever before," she said. "We know that over one and a half million people across the U.K. who did not have substance misuse prior to lockdown may now be experiencing problems associated with increased alcohol consumption," she said. "Around 2 million individuals who were identified as being in recovery, may have experienced a relapse over the past 18 months." And on the way into the event, Kate, 39, had been surprised — bumping into two British TV celebrities, hosts of I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me out of Here Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnolly. Kate composed herself and joked that she thought she was "in trouble" and that they were going to make her do one of their "tucker trials." Presenter Dec, who was also with singer Tom Walker, said "We can arrange that." But the TV duo was there for a serious reason — McPartlin spoke movingly of his own battles in their meeting with the Duchess. "It was bad," he told her. "But as soon as you open up the problem starts to disappear and it gets better." Kate was announced as patron of The Forward Trust in June, one month after the organization merged with Action on Addiction. On Tuesday, she spoke of the hope that she holds despite the figures. "I have had the privilege of meeting many incredible people who have lived through the harsh realities of addiction," she said in her speech. "Through their own hard work, and with the help from communities and charities, such as The Forward Trust, lives really are being turned around. Kate Middleton arriving on Tuesday. Samir Hussein/WireImage In the keynote speech, she added, "I fully support The 'Taking Action on Addiction' campaign to improve awareness and understanding of addiction. The campaign will show us that, not only do many people recover from addiction, they can go on to prosper." "We can all play our part in helping this work. By understanding, by listening, by connecting. So that together we can build a happier, healthier and more nurturing society." Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more! It was during a speech at a gala dinner for Action on Addiction that Kate outlined some of what she had discovered as she became more and more immersed in the efforts to help young children. "Sadly, for many who are suffering with addiction, they just don't receive the help they need early enough. They have already reached crisis point before they find the support they need," she said at the event two years ago. She added, "What's remarkable about Action on Addiction is that it goes beyond helping those who are suffering on the courageous journey into recovery. It also lends direct support to the children and families affected by addiction for as long as it takes."