Various addictions are often accompanied by shame, guilt, and self-stigmatization. These feelings can be traced back to the public stigmatization, which perpetuates negative stereotypes regarding addiction. The majority of society thinks of addiction as a moral problem insinuating that individuals suffering from addiction choose to continue using drugs, unlike people with other chronic conditions who are considered not to control their situation. This stigma prevents millions from seeking help, which ultimately delays recovery. At Midwest Recovery Center, we offer a uniquely tailored treatment plan that addresses each patient’s unique needs.
Stigmas Around Addiction
A majority of our society still rejects the fact that addiction is a brain disorder with behavioral components and thinks of it due to flawed character or moral weakness. Consequently, they possess negative attitudes towards people struggling with addiction inciting that:
- An employer should be able to deny employment to an individual struggling with addiction.
- Individuals with addictions should not receive the same health insurance benefits as healthy individuals.
- Healthy individuals should choose whether or not to work with someone who struggles with addiction.
- People in recovery can be judged by the number of relapses, which is perceived as an indication of how hard they are willing to get better.
This way of reasoning is very flawed and detrimental to individuals trying to overcome an addiction. Social stigma is one of the main reasons many people do not seek help or treatment because they fear discrimination or social rejection. Additionally, healthcare providers’ stigma has them viewing the patient’s addiction as their fault leading to substandard care. For example, people showing signs of acute withdrawal are often sent away from emergency rooms with the notion that they are only looking for drugs, which discourages those genuinely seeking help.
Ways to Reduce Stigmas
Fixing the stigmas around addiction requires a complete change of the language and conversation regarding addiction. Some ways to achieve this include:
- Educate yourself – Stigmas are based on assumptions and stereotypes as opposed to facts. There is an abundance of studies, research, and scientific data that confirms that addiction is not, in fact, a moral problem but a brain disease whose treatment is effective, and recovery is possible.
- Use the right language and terminology – Language is known to evoke different judgments and feelings. For example, stigmatizing addiction language includes words such as addict, clean, drug habit, and drug abuser. The corresponding preferred language that communicates the same includes a person with a substance disorder, abstinent, regular substance use, and a person who uses drugs.
- Speak up – Learning the science behind addictions and the right language is not enough to reduce stigmatization. One should go on and engage family and friends and get the conversation going.
- Correct those with misconceptions or those that perpetuate stigmas around addiction. Family therapy is a practical treatment approach that helps educate the patient’s social support system about addiction and the recovery journey.
- Treat those affected by addiction with respect and dignity as you would anyone else.
- Support resources, charities, and funds geared at ensuring recovery.
- Health providers can strive to curate unique treatment plans that address the different stigmas that affect different individuals, such as men’s rehab, women’s rehabs, adolescent rehab, outpatient program, community housing, partial hospitalization, or intensive outpatient program.
Recovering at Midwest Recovery Center
The common misconception is that persons who are addicted to drugs are degenerates or individuals that cannot be productive members of society. Understanding that anyone can struggle with drug addiction is a huge step in fixing stigmas around addiction. Successful stigma reduction requires time, effort, money, and human resources, but it is possible. Contact Midwest Recovery Center at 833.627.0039, or contact us online and let us hold your hand through recovery.