There is considerable misunderstanding surrounding the disease of addiction.
These misconceptions have lead to stigmas, which can make recovery even more difficult for individuals who are seeking to resolve their addictions. What is a stigma? Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines a stigma as “An association of disgrace or public disapproval with something, such as an action or condition.” One of the most common misconceptions of addiction is that the addicted person isn’t exercising their willpower appropriately, or that they just don’t care enough to stop using or drinking. In more recent years, addiction has gone from being considered a behavioral disorder, to a brain disorder. Stigmas can be harmful both to the addict and those around him/her. An individual struggling with addiction can feel shame, their loved ones can be ashamed, and society itself can dole out its own shameful stigmas. No one wins.
As a society, we are not going to overcome the stigmas of addiction overnight. It will take effort on each individual’s part, whether as a family member, educator, medical professional, or even the addicted person, themselves. So how can a person succeed in overcoming addiction stigmas for a successful recovery?
Here are a few ideas to consider when your goal is overcoming addiction stigmas for a successful recovery:
- Seek to educate yourself. Armed with accurate information about drug addiction and alcoholism, many of the misconceptions you might have can be brought to light and corrected. This process can be very empowering.
- Ask for help. If you believe that you have an addiction issue, speak to someone who understands addiction and can offer support and resources to recovery programs.
- Think positively. In the face of negativity and misunderstanding, don’t get sucked in. If you have learned about addiction and decided to seek help, you are taking the right actions. It is wise to avoid negativity and gossip. These two things only fuel the stigmas surrounding addiction.
- Reach out. If someone you love is battling drug addiction or alcoholism, you can support them. Now that you know the facts about this disease, you can help others by reaching out.
- Speak out. Having a new perspective regarding addiction, you can be a voice for the many people who are struggling with both addiction and its stigmas.
Overcoming addiction stigmas for a successful recovery not only helps you as an individual, but also helps break down the societal stigmas that have been in place for so long. By being confident in your recovery, and building a new life full of freedom, hope, and promise, you are changing the way the world sees drug addiction and recovery.