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.
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: