Addiction is a disease that strikes people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. There are a number of reasons that a person may become addicted to drugs or alcohol, and some people are genetically predisposed to addiction. Addiction strikes at the heart of people who are in pain, struggling with life issues, and even can appear in the lives of those who are not experiencing any depression or emotional issues. That is what is so dangerous about addiction.
Though research and the general medical community has long known that addiction is in fact a disease, addicts and the issue of addiction still face a large amount of stigma. This is problematic for a number of reasons, and it is very important that as a society, our views toward addiction and recovering addicts need to change. Currently an outdated attitude regarding addiction exists, and it denotes a negative connotation
The Stigma Prolongs Problems
One reason that the stigma around addiction is especially troublesome is that many people who are struggling with addiction may not get the help they need because they are ashamed of their disease. They may be reluctant to tell even those closest to them about their struggle.
Often, people who are not addicts or recovering addicts may not even realizing they are stigmatizing addiction when they make comments that imply that it is an addict’s fault for being addicted to drugs or alcohol or that if only an addict had more self-control they would be able to stop using. Not only can comments like these prevent a person from seeking the help they need, they may reinforce feelings of low self-worth in an addict and make it all the more difficult for them to find the treatment they need.
Also, when one is struggling in their addiction it becomes hard to relate to people because of the fear of being shunned. Deep down there are reservations that one comes to grips with, but denial runs so deep that one tells the lie to themselves that they are just fine, and there is no need to communicate with others who may have been through the same experience.
Insensitive Behavior Makes the Road to Recovery More Difficult
Recovering from addiction is a lifelong process that a recovering addict is always working at. There will always be struggles related to their addiction, but what all recovering addicts are trying to do is move past their history of addiction and work on a life that is healthy and productive.
When a recovering addict is stigmatized for their history with drug and alcohol abuse, it sends the message that those around them do not believe in their ability to succeed in their quest for sobriety. Recovery is already a challenging process and undermining a recovering addict’s choice to work toward sobriety only makes it an even more challenging endeavor for them. In some cases, stigma around recovering addicts may even result in discriminatory behavior, as in instances where an addict is denied employment based on their history of addiction.
Seeing Addiction for the Disease That It Is
The best way to end stigma around addiction is to spread awareness about what exactly addiction is, and why it is unfair to judge a person because of their struggle with this serious disease. The more people know about addiction, the more people will understand what it is and how it affects people on an extended timeline.
When, as a society, we are able to correctly identify addiction as a disease, we have a much greater sense of understanding and the ability to help those who have struggled with addiction get the help they need. Because addiction is such a complicated disease, there are a number of ways in which it must be treated, and the key to finding success in treatment is for society to come from a place of understanding.