Overcoming Addiction Stereotypes or stigmas for successful recovery may be the key to long-term sobriety.
Stereotypes or stigmas about addiction originate from ignorance about the disease itself. Most of these stigmas are negative, hurtful, and incorrect. They say, for example, that people suffering from addiction…
- are unintelligent.
- are junkies who live in dumpsters or alleys.
- are crazy.
- are violent criminals.
- have no will power.
- can stop whenever they want.
The truth about addiction is that it does not discriminate based on race, social status, sexual orientation, education, religion, how much money one has, or family background. Addiction is a disease – just as diabetes is. Are all diabetics overweight? No. Are all eating mounds of sugar? No.
Once addiction sets in, it takes over the brain, which then manufactures such powerful cravings that quitting the alcohol or drugs will lead to painful and even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Many people who are addicted carry shame, guilt, and embarrassment over their addiction and find it easier to just give up. But they don’t have to live under the grip of addiction. There is help, through medical detox and need residential treatment, and also through community 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Treatment and recovery programs introduce the person with the addiction to like-minded people who have lived with the same pain and who can share tools that have helped them gain sobriety. With the fellowship, sponsorship, and sharing of experiences, overcoming addiction stigmas for successful recovery will become easier.
We also need to work on overcoming Addiction Stereotypes or Stigmas to improve recovery rates within our communities. Feeding drug addiction stereotypes will only hold people back from reaching out for help. We can start by learning about the disease of addiction and being willing to talk about it in our homes. Open up to your children about addiction and share what you have learned. Here are some ways you can help:
- Educate yourself and loved ones about the disease of addiction
- Avoiding judging and name-calling
- Have compassion for the person who has the disease of addiction
- Believe that addiction does not discriminate
If we as a community collectively agree to the simple steps above, we may help eliminate the stigmas associated with addiction. With that, our hope would be that those suffering would come forward and enter recovery.