Many people believe that addiction is related to moral problems, and that people with substance abuse disorders choose to abuse drugs or alcohol. Unlike other people with chronic illnesses, addicts are blamed for their condition. This kind of stigma creates fear, guilt, and shame that prevents thousands of people from seeking help and getting the proper addiction treatment.
Stigma is the most formidable form of an obstacle when it comes to effective addiction treatment. Addicts have a much better chance of recovery when they feel supported and understood.
Establishing What Stigma Is
Stigma can be defined as a set of negative beliefs in a society about a topic or a particular group of people, and it is mostly fueled by misinformation. It is also a significant cause of discrimination, as it contributes to the abuse of human rights. Stigma not only affects the individual dealing with addiction but also:
- Their friends
- Their families
- Their employers and colleagues
- The members of the justice system
- Health care providers
People with substance abuse disorders are generally discriminated against and excluded because of their health status. Friends and family or the general public that have a negative feeling about drug abuse, may use derogatory terms to refer to them. These labels and negativity can quickly perpetuate stigma. Studies have found that the general public is more likely to have a negative feeling or attitude towards people dealing with substance abuse than those with mental illness.
What Is the Stigma Surrounding Addiction?
The stigma surrounding addiction is fueled by the lack of information about the subject. While scientists have found and helped us understand that addiction is chronic, society is yet to catch up, as most people still believe that addiction is a personal choice. No one chooses to get addicted. Addiction can be caused by many factors, like environmental influences and general vulnerability.
People who don’t understand the medical part of addiction may view it as a willpower problem and may assume that the addict brought it upon themselves. However, like any other health problem, addiction requires proper medical treatment, and adicts require the same support, respect, and treatment as a chronic health patient.
How Can We Prevent This?
No one likes to be devalued or negatively judged, no matter the situation. To help addicts start their treatment and recovery journey from drug abuse, it’s up to us to get rid of the stigma surrounding addiction. Since the stigma of addiction is closely linked to lack of understanding and proper education, there is no simple way of stopping it, but there are steps that we can take to hasten and make progress in the area.
When we start speaking up against the stigmatization of addiction, we shed some light on the society about their perception. Some of the most effective ways of reducing stigma include:
- Displaying kindness to people dealing with addiction
- Offering compassion or being compassionate
- Listening without subconsciously judging a person
- Avoiding hurtful labels and speaking out about them
- Viewing people for who they are and not the kind of substance they use
- Doing adequate research about drug or substance dependency
- Speaking up when you see people being mistreated because of drug use
- Treating people who are struggling with addiction with respect and dignity
- Replacing negative comments and posts with evidence and facts
- Sharing stories of addiction
Reducing stigmatization is a collective effort from the people dealing with addiction and nonaddicts. Everyone has a role to play in bringing positivity in the world of addiction recovery.
We Can Help
Addiction today is a growing problem. With proper treatment plans and support, anyone struggling with addiction can make a full recovery. Don’t let stigma prevent you or people you care about from getting help.
At Lake Arrowhead Recovery Resource, we are here for you because we care about you and the people you love. Reach out to us if you or someone close to you is looking for a suitable addiction recovery center, and we will help connect you with our holistic centers who will offer you the best addiction treatment plan based on your needs. Our support teams will also be with you throughout your recovery journey. Make your call and start your journey to sobriety today!