How to Overcome the Stigma surrounding Addictions

Drug and alcohol abuse, if left unchecked, claims the lives of tens of thousands of people each year. Medicines for opioid and alcohol use disorder are two examples of effective tools already available in healthcare that may prevent many of these deaths, but they are not used nearly enough, and many people who could benefit from them do not even seek them out.
One of the major contributing factors that cause those suffering from addiction to resist seeking treatment is the social stigma that still surrounds this disease.
Some progress has been made in lowering stigma surrounding specific disorders; for example, depression is today somewhat less taboo than it was in previous generations thanks to public education and the widespread use of effective medication.
The stigma associated with substance abuse disorders, however, has made very little headway. Addicts are still held responsible for their illness. South Africa is home to a burgeoning population of recovering addicts, counsellors, and specialists, making it an excellent setting for alcohol rehabilitation centresGet in touch with us for more information on our long term rehab centre.

Overcoming Adiction Stigma

Despite widespread agreement within the medical community that addiction is a multifaceted brain condition with strong behavioural underpinnings, many in the public and even within the medical and legal communities still attribute it to moral failings on the part of those who struggle with addiction.
Rejecting those who struggle with addiction or mental illness is a result of violations of societal norms, which makes it difficult to reduce stigma.
There needs to be more acknowledgement of the fact that some people are more predisposed to developing an addiction than others due to factors like genetics or their upbringing, and that medical care is often necessary to facilitate recovery and prevent the worst outcomes like overdose.
Stigmatisation and rejection of those struggling with addiction are destructive feedback loops that exacerbate the progression of the condition. In this article, we encourage an open discussion about the stigmas surrounding addictions, as well as how to overcome them.

Overcoming Stigma: Encouraging Open Discussions About Addiction
Overcoming Stigma: Encouraging Open Discussions About Addiction
Overcoming Stigma: Encouraging Open Discussions About Addiction

The causes of stigma surrounding addiction

Lack of knowledge about the nature of addiction, not knowing anyone with a substance use disorder, being surrounded by others who share the same prejudicial beliefs, and wanting to believe there are simple solutions to complex problems can all contribute to the stigma surrounding people in recovery. There are many facets and dimensions of Substance Use Disorder (SUD). There is no single factor that keeps an individual mired in their addiction, and it will take a combination of approaches to help them find stability and ultimately lead them to sober. Stigma associated with substance abuse includes:

·         Substance abuse is a voluntary condition.
·         Addicts lack the ability to control themselves.
·         Individualism and a lack of concern for others are hallmarks of alcoholics.
·         Addiction is a disease that only affects the poor and the ignorant.
·         An addict is a bad person who belongs in prison for their actions.
·         An addict’s contributions to society are limited.
·         A person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol is hopeless.

Ways to address and overcome stigma surrounding addiction

It takes time for things to change, but here are some things you can do to break down the barriers to rehabilitation for individuals who are struggling with the effects of stigma.

Avoid spreading misinformation

Misinformation is the lifeblood of stigma. When in doubt, seek answers. Gain knowledge. Then, aid the training of others.

Overcoming Stigma: Encouraging Open Discussions About Addiction
Overcoming Stigma: Encouraging Open Discussions About Addiction

Be compassionate, not judgmental

A simple act of kindness can have a domino effect that helps reduce prejudice. Offer to drive them to a meeting for people in recovery, lend them books, and even act as a reference if you feel comfortable doing so. This demonstrates that not everyone shares the stigma’s beliefs and gives the person in recovery more reason to have faith.

Offer support to the families

Substance use disorder has repercussions beyond the addict themselves. Families, kids, and friends are all impacted. Their families are suffering too. Tell them it’s okay to ask for help too. Both Al-Anon and Nar-Anon were founded to provide a safe space for people who care about an addict to share their experiences and find ways to help.

Share stories of recovery

Tell your story if you are a person in recovery. For those who are feeling hopeless, this might be a strong demonstration that recovery is possible. People in recovery can help others still struggling by showing them that they, too, need not hide their mistakes from the world.
If this all sounds overwhelming, consider what it would be like if it were your story. No one voluntarily develops an addiction, but when people with these disorders feel encouraged, they have a significantly better chance of beating their disease.

Avoid using stereotyping language

The power of language can do so much good in the fight against addiction stigma. What we say about those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol can have a profound effect on whether or not they seek treatment and whether or not they accept medical therapy that could potentially alter their condition.
You can help to lessen the social stigma of addiction by eliminating terms that place blame on the addict rather than on the condition itself.

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