Addiction is a complex brain disease that does not discriminate. Anyone can develop an addiction, regardless of social status, age, gender, or race. Unfortunately, there is a stigma surrounding addiction that prevents some people from seeking help. The stigma is a false perception that people who struggle with addiction are homeless, poor, low class, and uneducated.
Why is there a stigma surrounding addiction?
This stigma surrounding addiction affects a person’s self-esteem, relationships, and lessens the possibility of him or her getting help for addiction. In reality, well educated, middle to upper-class people with good paying jobs struggle with addiction. It affects lawyers, teachers, veterans, and medical professionals.
Using particular substances has not only been deemed deserving of social disapproval and moral condemnation, but society has also defined such behaviors as crimes. The criminalization of addiction exacerbates stigma and produces exclusionary processes that deepen the marginalization of people who use illegal substances. (Ahern J, Stuber J, Galea S, US National Library of Medicine, 2007).
Who is at risk of addiction?
Anyone can be at risk of addiction. Opioid addiction is increasing among people of all ages, nationalities, and social statuses. Our nation is suffering an opioid epidemic and people are dying from overdoses. Opioids are powerful prescription painkillers meant for temporary pain relief due to surgery, injury, or illness. Many people misuse opioids for their pleasurable effects.
The stigma of addiction harms social lives. The false perception of addiction leads to discrimination and affects the mental and social health of people struggling with addiction. The stigma dehumanizes people who use drugs or alcohol and creates a disconnection with their community and loved ones. Addiction is isolating and stigma amplifies loneliness.
When a person feels shamed by society and has no one to talk to, he or she is less likely to pursue treatment. Loneliness can fuel underlying mental health issues and fuel even more substance use to cope with the symptoms. The cycle continues and becomes increasingly more difficult to break.
People who abuse drugs or alcohol might lack confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem. Many people who are not familiar with or suffer from addiction view it as a lack of self-control, which contributes to the stigma of addiction and heightens the difficulty of accessing proper treatment.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help now. Do not let the stigma of addiction prevent you from saving your life. Although there is no cure for addiction, treatment is available and there is hope in recovery.
The Fort Worth Recovery umbrella covers medically supervised detox, as well as residential programs for men and women alike. Our programs are abstinence-based and combine a 12-step approach with a strong mental health component, integrating cutting-edge techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), Somatic Experiencing, and Motivational Interviewing. For more information or to start your healing journey, please fill out a contact request form and one of our recovery experts will connect with you shortly.