Overcoming the Stigma of Addiction
Recovering addicts often feel the weight of stigma after addiction. Here are 5 tips you can use to overcome the stigma of addiction and make strides in recovery.
If you know what it feels like to hide your past addiction from your employer, from your doctor, from your Saturday night date, then you know what it feels like to be affected by the negative stigma attached to this disease. And you’re not alone.
One in ten people in the United States are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
With addiction being such a common disease, it’s no wonder that there is a stigma attached to it. For addicts, this stigma can be a crippling part of recovery and very hard to shake.
If you are recovering from substance addiction, don’t let the stigma surrounding your past define your future. There are great resources and counseling available to help you through this.
Read on for more information and for five tips that will help you to overcome the stigma of addiction and allow you to move on with your life.
Why the Stigma of Addiction Exists
So, why does this stigma exist in our culture? Dr. Richard Juman cites these reasons:
- People don’t seek the treatment they need.
- The addict is not treated properly.
- Mental health professionals refuse to treat addicts.
- Addiction treatment is expensive.
- Many addicts become incarcerated.
- The stigma of addiction follows people long after treatment ends.
- Recovering addicts live under a cloud of suspicion.
- Stigma creates constant roadblocks in people’s lives.
As you can see, each of these events both cause and progress the stigma of addiction. What does this mean? It means that not only can a person’s time of recovery be disrupted or unsuccessful, a dark shadow of judgment can also loom over that person long past their treatment time.
Now that we know a little more about why there is such a stigma surrounding addiction, let’s dive into some tips for overcoming this harmful stigma.
1. Surround Yourself with People Who Care
The support of people who love you and understand what you’re going through will be an amazing help during the time of your recovery.
Those who have seen what the struggle through addiction is really like firsthand are much more likely not to let our society’s stigma affect how they look at you. Pushing judgments away is the most valuable thing a supportive group can do to help you during your time of healing.
When battling a powerful stigma, it can feel like the entire world is against you. Having a support group to help combat these feelings is absolutely vital to a successful recovery.
If you feel like your friends or family don’t understand what you’re going through, a support group in a treatment center or after-treatment meet-up can really help. A quick Google search can help you to find these groups in your area.
2. Educate Yourself About Addiction
Empowering yourself with information about your own disease will allow you to better move past the stigmas that surround it. Believe it or not, these stigmas that are force-fed to us every day can even affect those that are on the inside of an experience with addiction.
Knowing exactly what to expect during recovery, instead of what the media or other people may tell you to expect, will greatly aid in your success. Spend some time doing research about addiction, recovery, and the stigma attached to both in order to arm yourself with knowledge against negative influences.
3. Combat Negative Stereotypes
Guilt, shame, disgrace. These are all emotions that recovering addicts may experience, and certainly are aggravated by the stigma surrounding this disease.
If you hear someone labeling you or other addicts around you, don’t buy into it, and don’t stay silent. Think of how many times you’ve seen the classic Hollywood drug addict stereotype in a film or movie. Eyes glazed, caring for nothing but their next fix, and leaving a trail of destruction in their path.
It’s time that we stomp on these stereotypes and humanize the disease of addiction. At every possible turn, combat these negative stereotypes in any way that makes you feel empowered. Not only will this help you on your journey toward full recovery, it will help others as well.
4. Know That Addiction Is Not a Choice
Addiction is a chronic disease. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Although removing drugs from your life is an obvious part of recovery, the mental part of recovery is just as important. The compulsions that cause people to use and continue using drugs are very important to understand. Addiction is not about weakness.
Accepting this disease as a part of yourself, and learning more about what it really means to have an addictive personality are imperative during the recovery process. Once you understand and accept this fully, it will be much easier to overcome the stigmas which you are faced with in your life during addiction, during treatment, and during recovery.
5. Enroll Yourself in the Best Treatment Program Available to You
Seeking help in a professional, supportive, and successful environment is an important part of keeping the stigma of addiction away from your recovery process.
And with so many options out there, choosing the right treatment center and program for you can be overwhelming. Here are some things to look for when making your selection:
- Inpatient treatment program options
- Programs specifically tailored to your needs
- Both physical and psychological treatment methods
- Success stories from past patients
- Comfortable accommodations
- Short-term and long-term options available
- The exclusion of the use of other addictive drugs for treatment
- Nutritional treatment components
- Support for patient’s lives after treatment
- No promises of quick fixes or other gimmicks
Keep in mind that not every treatment program is right for every kind of person. Thankfully, there are many different kinds of programs and treatment centers out there. Make sure that you consider all the options, and make your decision based on where you are with your addiction, and what sort of treatment works best for you.
You Can Do It
The stigma of addiction can be debilitating. But don’t let it stop you. Allow it to give you the strength to fight back against these ugly misconceptions and help to rid our society of them.
Feeling weak is a part of being human, but sticking with recovery will change your life forever. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Contact us anytime to hear about our treatment programs, or if you need support or information regarding addiction recovery. We’re here for you.