In recent years, we’ve come a long way in understanding addiction. People are becoming increasingly aware that addiction is a complex problem related to genes, trauma, upbringing, and mental illness, and not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. Most people know someone who has struggled with addiction, whether they know it or not. Celebrities are speaking out publicly more often about their own struggles with addiction. Media coverage of the opioid epidemic has shown the world that addiction can happen to anyone. As a result, more people are starting to see addiction as a problem that needs treatment and not punishment. Despite the excellent progress, there is still a long way to go. One of the biggest reasons people who know they need help decide not to get treatment is that they fear being stigmatized. Here are some ways you can help reduce the stigma around addiction.
Be careful how you talk about addiction.
When you see someone at the bitter end of addiction, it’s easy to forget that you’re seeing a person in pain. It’s easy to label him an “addict,” a “drunk,” or a “junkie.” These labels are dehumanizing and studies have shown that using those kinds of epithets diminish your own empathy and make it harder for addicted people to recover. Whether you’re talking about someone struggling with an addiction, a disability, or a mental health issue, remember they are people with feelings and families. They have as much right to happiness and dignity as you do. They just happen to be in a bad place at the moment. When you talk about addiction, remember it could easily be your spouse, your child, or your best friend facing that struggle.
Educate yourself about addiction.
The more you know about something, the less scary it becomes. When you know more about addiction, you become less likely to pass along faulty assumptions about it. Instead, you can correct whatever misconceptions you happen to encounter. Even if you don’t convince someone he’s wrong, it’s better to challenge misconceptions. You might even sway disinterested third parties to your way of thinking. If you don’t know much about addiction, the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s website, drugabuse.gov, is a good place to start. It offers basic information on common drugs of abuse, the latest addiction science, and evidence-based treatment methods.
Be open about your own experiences with addiction.
Although most people know someone who has struggled with addiction, or is currently struggling with addiction, many people aren’t aware of it. Many people who struggle with addiction are excellent at hiding it, even from their partners and friends. It may be hard to believe, but someone close to you might have had a substance use problem and gotten treatment without your knowing. Of course, everyone has a right to keep his or her addiction and treatment private and no one should be criticized for doing so. However, if you do feel able to admit your history with addiction, if only to certain people, you can help make the problem of addiction slightly less invisible. This is one of the main ways the public came to support gay rights and now we’re seeing a similar trend of celebrities speaking more openly about their struggles with addiction. You don’t have to be famous to bring awareness to the issue.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.