Addiction is stigmatized in our mainstream culture and has been for some time.
We stereotype addicted people as criminals, as being irresponsible, lazy, shameful and immoral. We associate addiction with crime, poverty, homelessness, and corruption. We don’t want “addicts” or their illnesses to be part of our communities or our families. As such, we reject the people with addiction in our lives. Often, we teach young people about addiction with cries of “Just say no!” instead of acknowledging that addiction is a mental illness. Other times, we avoid the subject of addiction outright and shy away from addressing it – even when it enters our own home. We’re afraid that if we confront the real issues surrounding addiction, we might make ourselves or our loved ones more vulnerable to its effects. We’re afraid addiction might somehow seep into our lives, simply by acknowledging its existence.
If we want to tackle addiction in our neighborhoods, schools, families, and communities, we have to start working to shed the stigma surrounding it.
We can’t demonize or criticize people who are living with addiction or struggling to recover. We can’t reject them and deny them our help and support. We have to learn to be more tolerant of all people, including the people who are different from us, whose issues we don’t share. The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry… Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.” If we want to heal our communities and stop the rise of drug use and overdose, we have treat addiction as a health epidemic, not a behavioral issue. This means learning to offer compassionate support and educating ourselves about the illness. Judgment separates us, while compassion unites us. Above all, we must unite as we face the epidemic of addiction.
Together we are stronger and more powerful than we could ever hope to be alone.
On a personal level, shedding the stigma around addiction means sharing our stories and being honest about our experiences. It requires that we raise our voices and act with integrity regardless of what other people think. For the family members of addicted people, it means listening with an open heart and supporting our loved ones as they recover from an incredibly difficult mental health diagnosis. It means fostering inclusiveness, grace and tolerance as the values we uphold in our homes, schools, and neighborhoods. If we insist on clinging to the stigma around addiction, we’ll only continue to push away the people who need our help the most.
Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use disorders, mental health diagnoses, 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