Thousands of people die from treatable addictions every year in the United States. This occurs despite the medical community having the tools and treatments to prevent many of these deaths. Unfortunately, too many people who could benefit from addiction treatment fail to seek help or get connected to the help they deserve. The stigma of addiction plays a major role in this.
The Source of Addiction’s Stigma
Progress has been made in reducing the stigma surrounding many health conditions over the past decades. One of the most prominent cases is depression, which is much less taboo to discuss and treat than in past years. Two contributing factors here are growing public education about the disorder alongside effective medications.
The stigma of addiction has proven much harder to weed out. The belief that addiction is the result of individual failings remains pervasive in American society. And that belief shows up not just in the general population, but also afflicts some members of the medical profession, resulting in patients struggling with addiction receiving subpar care.
With this focus on individual failings remaining the overarching narrative related to addiction inside and outside of the medical profession, it is no wonder that thousands of Americans who could benefit from addiction treatment fail to seek help. Stigma not only causes fewer people to seek help, but it may also, in fact, reinforce the vicious cycle of drug use among those who feel that established systems are not willing to help them without judgment.
Addressing Addiction’s Stigma
Addressing the stigma of addiction is a vital step toward ensuring everyone who needs support in overcoming addiction is able to access treatment. Three broad categories capture some key elements of what it will take to address the stigma of addiction.
Educate the Public
Educating the public has worked in helping to destigmatize other health conditions and has a role to play with the unique stigma attached to addiction. Some key aspects of education include:
- Showing how and why people develop an addiction
- Addressing biased, inaccurate depictions of addiction in the media and on television
- Displaying the full humanity of people struggling with addiction without sensationalizing their addiction or moralizing about it
Personalize the Issue
It is true of most things in life that people care more if they can better empathize and understand something. Part of that means personalizing an issue for people so that it doesn’t feel so foreign and other to them. This can be accomplished through a variety of methods, including:
- Equipping famous personalities to raise awareness of substance abuse disorders
- Highlighting the stories of people who struggle with substance abuse so they can share about the prejudice and bias they have experienced as a result
- Deconstructing the stereotype
So much of what informs the average person’s understanding of who struggles with addiction is negative and misleading. By deconstructing the stereotype of who struggles with addiction, we can show people that addiction can impact anyone, no matter their background or circumstances.
Overcoming Addiction at Georgia Addiction Treatment Center
It is imperative that our society addresses the stigma surrounding addiction. Current stigma drives needless death and suffering that actively makes our society and its citizens less healthy.
Nonetheless, the presence of stigma doesn’t negate that overcoming addiction in the here and now is possible. We are here to support you or your loved one in achieving wholeness and freedom from addiction.
Reach out to us at 833.641.0661 to discover how we can partner with you in overcoming addiction.