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How Damaging Is The Stigma Of Addiction?

The word “addict” and the word “alcoholic” paint very distinct pictures, bringing to mind a very specific kind of person. What does an addict or an alcoholic look like to you? You might envision someone homeless, without a job, acting severely mentally ill, who does not practice proper hygiene and has thrown their life away for drugs and alcohol. Chances are, you experience some sort of visceral ‘disgust’ because in your mind this kind of way of life is morally offensive, and the human brain allocates physical sensations to moral experiences. You’re perturbed in some way thinking about addiction and alcoholism because it is most likely a way of life that is difficult for you to understand.  What you understand about addiction typically comes from somewhere else- you may not have had the experience of someone who has lived with active addiction in your life or have lived with active addiction yourself. Your ability to empathize with someone who is living with addiction and have compassion for their struggle is thwarted by your lack of personal relation to the situation. Personally relating to someone who has an addiction isn’t something you might necessarily want to do because of the way society at large and the media have created a stigma around addiction in your mind. Whether you mean to believe it or not, there is a part of you that believes that addiction is ‘wrong’ and ‘bad’ and that people who are addicted are subsequently ‘wrong’ and ‘bad’. Since you believe that someone who is an active addict is ‘bad’ in some way, you don’t believe they have the same rights as you do; in fact, the ‘worse’ of an addict they are, the less you inherently believe they deserve.

Hearing these truths are hard- we don’t want to admit that we think any more or less of certain kinds of people. Unfortunately, millions upon millions of other people do not want to admit the same thing. By holding on to these silent standards, the world continues to treat those who are addicted or alcoholic at a sub-par level- like criminals, like degenerates, like something or someone other than a human being who has the same basic needs, and the same basic rights to get those needs met, like anyone else.

Stigmatizing addiction prevents people from reaching out for help, as well as getting the help they need.

Together, we can learn about the disease of addiction, fight to break the stigma against those who are suffering, and create a global network of support to help people recover.



Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance abuse, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.

For information on our programs,

call us today:   561-841-1296.

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If you or someone you love has a substance use or mental health disorder, Origins Behavioral HealthCare can help. We will work alongside you to provide the most comprehensive treatment available.