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The Largest Barrier to Addiction Recovery: Stigma

The Largest Barrier to Addiction Recovery: Stigma

June 22, 2018
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Recently pop singer Demi Lovato revealed in a song that she was no longer sober. The lyrics she sang spoke of the shame, guilt and embarrassment she felt surrounding her relapse. And Demi isn’t alone in this- almost everyone who has struggled with a substance use disorder or an alcohol use disorder has felt the same way. Yet for those struggling with addiction, intervention specialists and addiction professionals can be hard to come by. Sober companions, sober coaching and other recovery care monitoring services are very useful, but unfortunately, not all have access.

How Stigma Affects Those With Substance Abuse Disorders

So what exactly is stigma? Well, stigma can be defined as a negative belief or set of beliefs that one has regarding a group of individuals. But stigma often transcends thought and influences the way people behave around and treat certain individuals. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stigma is a major cause of discrimination and exclusion and it contributes to the abuse of human rights.

Stigmatization Leads To Lack of Support

And it seems that stigmatization of those struggling with addiction gives way to a serious lack of support. The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 21.5 Americans age 12 and older had a substance use disorder in the previous year; however, only 2.5 million received the specialized treatment they needed. But the disparity doesn’t end there: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) concluded that of the 2.3 million individuals jailed in the United States, more than 65% of them met the criteria for a substance abuse disorder, yet only 11% of those individuals received treatment.

How To Help Stop Stigmatization of Substance Abuse

In response to the overwhelming stigmatization of substance abuse, it is important to remember that anyone can become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Painting those that are suffering as “bad,” “immoral,” or “wrong” only leads to the feelings that start use (and addiction) in the first place. With this said, there are some helpful ways that you can help to remove stigmatization and embrace love in your dealings with substance abuse disorders and alcohol use disorders. It is important to offer your love and support, to display kindness especially to those in precarious situations, to avoid pejorative labels like “crackhead,” “junkie,” “alcoholic” and more, to see someone for who they are not just what drugs they are using and to replace negative response or feelings with evidence-based facts. Another key to combating the insidiousness of stigmatization is to share personal stories of stigma- this connection will allow something an addict desperately needs- to be understood and not judged. The acts of love and acceptance do far more to aid an addict than judgment, harsh words or stigmatization.

If you are seeking sober coaches or sober escorts in the Virginia area that understand the disease of addiction, Recovery Care Partners has the best addiction consulting, pre-treatment consulting and post-treatment consulting.