The stigma of addiction often causes discrimination and judgment against the individual who suffers from a substance use disorder. Stigmas surrounding addiction can isolate people and keep them from getting the help they may need to overcome their disorder.
How the Stigma of Addiction Can Affect Those in Recovery
The stigma of addiction can cause barriers to recovery beyond a fear of seeking help. Unfortunately, many people still associate the word “addict” with characteristics of weakness, laziness, and unethical behavior. Someone who has never been affected directly or indirectly by addiction may have a hard time understanding that addiction is a disease with a high relapse rate, similar to diabetes or cancer.
Addiction stigma can also affect life in recovery. Returning to work or finding a job after treatment can be stressful due to the fear of prejudice or misunderstanding about addiction recovery. Stigma can prevent those in recovery from seeking out continued care or attending support group meetings. They may fear for their privacy, worrying that being seen at a meeting will jeopardize their reputation.
A successful recovery from addiction takes work and a strong support system. If someone fears getting continued help and does not have the support of those closest to them, they can be at an increased risk for relapse.
Ways to Overcome the Stigma
Addiction stigma leads to so much unnecessary guilt and shame. However, the stigma can be overcome with education and understanding. Here are some steps to take:
- Educate yourself and others. Addiction occurs for a variety of reasons. Genetics, environmental factors, illness, and other variables all play a role. Educating yourself and talking to others about why addiction happens can help reduce the stigma and open the doors to discussion.
- Tell your personal journey. Talking about your own journey and personal experiences with addiction can put a human touch on the problem and show others that addiction can happen to anyone. People need to see that treatment programs do work and that long-term recovery is achievable.
- Be understanding. If a loved one is showing signs of addiction, be understanding and show your support. Shaming the person for their substance use disorder only enforces the stigma surrounding addiction and can prevent them from getting the help they need.
- Raise awareness. Join efforts to raise awareness about drug and alcohol addiction, such as by volunteering at a community event or with a local organization. Changing the community’s perception of addiction will encourage those who suffer from addiction to seek out local resources for help.
- Speak up. If you see a person being judged or mistreated because of their addiction, don’t be afraid to speak up. Allowing others to speak negatively and ignorantly about addiction only reinforces the stigma.
We Are Here to Help
Do not let the stigma of addiction prevent you or a loved one from getting the help you need. If you are struggling with addiction, Mountain Laurel Recovery Center is here to help. Our recovery center is located in Pennsylvania on over 24 serene acres and is staffed with addiction specialists who can assist residents with an individualized treatment approach. We offer a wide range of programs and treatments, including holistic therapy and medical detox. To find out more about the programs and services we have to offer, contact us today!