Combating the Stigma of Addiction
By Elizabeth P.
Stigma is a term that refers to the negative stereotyping and general disrespect directed to a certain group of people based on a single common trait. Stigma is different depending on the target, but it always has negative effects. There is stigma associated with addiction. Some people claim that addicts are lazy and that they are bad people. Addiction comes in many different forms, but the form of having stigma is similar all throughout.
The effects of stigma can be devastating. Many people who have addiction problems hesitate to seek treatment since they do not want to be considered as addicts. Out of those who do seek treatment, many of them keep it a secret from their friends and family because they don’t want to be judged. Being an addict is certainly not a good thing, but people should not necessarily be ashamed.
However, there are ways to combat stigma. Education is the key. A lot of people think that addiction is a choice. It is not. Initially using drugs or drinking alcohol is a decision, but becoming addicted is not. Addiction is, essentially, a mental illness. People need to learn to treat mental illness like any other illness. It doesn’t make someone crazy. If more people realized that addiction is a disease, more addicts would be willing to seek treatment.
You can help combat stigma by letting your friends and family with addiction problems know that you are there for them. Be the person who they can confide in. If you have an addiction problem, don’t be afraid to tell someone. A good support system helps many addicts stay clean.