The Stigma Of Addiction Is Harmful To Everyone

Stigma of Addiction is Harmful to Everyone

General awareness has been heightened about the power of words to hurt groups of people. While the person saying the words may not realize how powerful they are, the group the words are targeting know all too well how painful they are. When it comes to addiction, the stigma associated with it is harmful to everyone. As people become more knowledgeable about addiction, and why it happens, more understanding has occurred about the issue. And what experts have come to realize is that addiction is about way more than just someone’s lack of willpower or lack of character. It’s a complex issue that involves many factors such as genetics, environment, and personal triggers.

Barrier To Treatment

Addiction needs to be de-stigmatized because it’s one of the main barriers to treatment. People who suffer from addiction will hide their problems and refuse treatment because they are embarrassed of what other people will think of them. They don’t want to be labeled a “junkie” or “loser.” And many times they also don’t want to lose the façade of perfection that most people want to project to the world, like they are in control of everything. By admitting addiction, people have to admit that they are in need of serious help, and will have to learn to trust others again to start the journey of recovery. They will also have to understand that by seeking treatment, they are not embarrassing themselves or their family, but in fact taking courageous steps towards recovery. If there was less stigma about addiction, and more education, it would be less of a barrier to treatment than it currently is.

Importance Of Open Communication

Addicts will often shut out the people who are closest to them to hide their problems. Oftentimes parents, relatives, close friends, and romantic partners will be shut out from a person’s life, because the individual doesn’t want them to know about the issues. They fear a multitude of things, such as being an outcast, disappointing loved ones, and facing feelings of failure and rejection. Many times, these feelings are not totally logical, because more than anything, the people close to the addict want the individual to seek help. Most of all, keeping open lines of communication open with loved ones can help expedite the process of recovery, and help lower the stigma of addiction.

What People Can Do To Help

Words do hurt, and people can help lower the stigma of addiction, by being mindful of the words they use when talking about individuals who suffer from it. They can choose not to use derogatory terms when referring to someone struggling with addiction, like:

  • Druggie
  • Abuser
  • Filthy
  • Freak
  • Crack head
  • Dirty
  • Loser
  • Alky

Most likely, the person with the addiction problem, already suffers from chronically low self-esteem and these words only serve to enforce the person’s feelings. In general, if people are more mindful about the words they use when referring to someone with an addiction problem, the stigma can be greatly reduced. People should also keep in mind that addiction is a complex problem, and addicts will often neglect getting treatment because of the stigma involved. There is also a mental health component that plays into people’s addiction problems. Many people also suffer from a mental health issue along with the abusing of drugs or alcohol. This is why it’s so crucial for them to get professional treatment, so they can tackle the mental health issues that also need to be treated. Most of all, try to treat people who have substance abuse problems with dignity and respect. If people feel like they are already negatively labeled and stigmatized, it’s only that much easier for the labels to be self-fulfilling prophecies.