In ancient times, addiction was seen as a weakness. Nowadays, we know it’s a brain condition, but the society still judges the addicted ones. There is still a lot of prejudice regarding drug and alcohol use. Addicts and former addicts are still discriminated, which sometimes leads to their relapse or even death.
Rehab centers like The Recovery Village Columbus treat the mind and the bodies of the addicted, helping them get rid of their bad habit. But, there is one thing these centers can’t cure: the stigma of addiction. After the patient leaves the center, he or she is going to become victim of this stigma. For some people, overcoming it it’s easy, but there are many more for whom the stigma is too much of a burden.
Why is there a stigma to addiction?
To be able to fight the stigma, you need to understand its roots. People still see addiction as being a fault of the individual. This comes from the long delay of the healthcare officials in declaring addiction a real disease. Moreover, when this eventually happens, many people still fail to understand the complexity of obsessive patterns, so they still blame the individual for their addiction.
Then, there is the link between drugs and criminality, which sheds a bad light on addiction. The fear of relapses plays a role as well.
Effects of addiction stigma
Stigmatization of addicts and former addicts leads to discrimination, isolation, embarrassment and reluctance to seek professional help. Together, these can lead the addict towards a dangerous path, ending with death.
As the general opinion on addicts is negative, insurance companies often refuse to pay for rehab, while national programs offer the cheapest treatment options, which are not as effective as other options. The funds for rehab facilities are also low, which adds more pressure on this issue.
How to overcome the stigma of addiction
Acceptance is the first step towards recovery. The moment you realize you have a problem with a certain substance, you realize that you are ill. This means it’s not your fault and you never chose to be an addict.
Finding a support group is very important, as it shows you are not alone in your struggle. There are many support groups available, both for the addict and their family. Joining such a group helps you before, during and after the rehab, because you can share your experiences during every step. Your family and friends can also join a support group – living with a former addict takes its toll and the society usually stigmatizes the family as well. A support group will help you deal with the effects of the stigma and the addiction.
Education is another important tool in overcoming the stigma. At rehab centers the addicts are given a new perspective on their condition after they are educated on it. Knowing what caused you to become addicted to a substance brings a lot of relief and helps you go through the withdrawal process. Counseling is also useful, as it helps the addict gain confidence again. By understanding the patterns of addiction, one can avoid falling into the same traps, thus, avoid a relapse.
It’s important to stay social and return to your regular activities, as this will help you overcome the stigma and beat your addiction.