It is sometimes hard for friends and family to understand addiction. There are a lot of misconceptions about the nature of this disease, and some people don’t realize it’s a disease at all. Stigma, sadly, is often a barrier to getting help for addicts in recovery.
In the media, today, however, we’re fortunate that addiction and recovery are “hot topics.” People are finding out that addiction is indeed a disease. Also known as substance use disorder, this disease can cause problems for family and friends. Understanding the disease is essential not only to recovering people, but also those loved ones that surround them.
You wouldn’t be ashamed if you discovered you had heart disease, diabetes, or other diseases. So why is there so much stigma surrounding addiction and recovery? And how can family and recovering people themselves help battle this stigma?
Understanding Stigma and How it Hurts
Much stigma surrounding drug and alcohol addiction comes from the media. How many times have addicted people been portrayed as desperate, criminal, and even violent? The media, especially movies and television, will describe addicted people as “addicts” and “junkies” that are unable to change their ways. These images are false and really, quite silly. Hundreds of thousands of people get clean and join the ranks of recovery every year. Nobody is “set” in their ways – recovery is always possible.
Because of these harmful stereotypes, it’s difficult for many addicted people to get the help that they need. The stigma is hurtful and causes some people to honestly believe that they are worthless, unable to change, and undeserving of a second chance.
There is a crisis of addiction taking place in our country and even around the world. Confronting this stigma and spreading accurate information will help facilitate the change that is needed to help people get into recovery.
Pushing Past Stigma
In communities hardest hit by the addiction epidemic, there are treatment centers, sober homes and other options for people who need to get help, yet it’s often very humbling for the people who need them most to pick up the phone. It’s hard to admit you have a drug problem and you might worry about what people will think.
Addiction can be a life and death disease, and getting help is a sign of strength, not a weakness. Even the FDA has stated that addiction is a disorder of the brain that causes significant changes in a drug user’s body and mind.
Getting clean is fighting for a better and healthier life. You’re worth the effort, and it’s illegal for employers or insurer to discriminate against you just because you’re seeking help.
If you feel that there is too much stigma attached to getting help, a treatment counselor can help you inform your employers, family, and friends about addiction as a serious medical issue. Insurance will usually pay to get you the help you need, whether it’s detox, inpatient or outpatient treatment.
When you pick up the phone to learn about recovery, whether it’s calling an AA meeting or seeking out a treatment or detox program, there won’t be any judgment on the other end of the phone. There is no stigma when you’re in a community of your peers. There’s support, instruction, and opportunities for growth. But no one will tell you that you’re a “bad person” for being addicted to a drug.
Are you looking for help with a substance abuse problem? Call us today to learn more about your options. You’re worth it!
All calls are 100% confidential, and we’re happy to answer any questions you may have – call today at (619) 363-4767.