Addiction Is a Disease
Making the decision to get help for drug or alcohol addiction is a huge life moment. It’s one of the hardest decisions you may make, and you want to know you have support. Still, it can be hard to ask for help when it seems so many people view addiction treatment as a weakness.
But addiction is a disease like any other. It requires professional counseling and support. Most people with dependence cannot control their actions. That’s why you should be proud of your decision to get help.
What Is Addiction Stigma?
Stigma is the feeling that others are looking down on you because of your addiction. Stigma isn’t just something you feel but is also based on people’s behavior toward those who suffer from addiction, which may include name-calling, hate-filled messages, and generally poor treatment.
There are two forms of stigma:
- Public stigma: This is the reaction our culture has toward a person who has a specific trait or disease that is considered negative in some way.
- Self-stigma: This is a type of internal shaming, when a person feels guilt and shame about themselves for having an addiction or needing counseling.
It’s not always easy to understand why stigma develops. Sometimes, it’s hard to spot self-stigma because of how ingrained it can be in a person’s belief system. Often, your family and friends don’t know you feel this way because you hide it. Yet it’s still there and still limiting your overall ability to be successful in addiction recovery.
Why Is Stigma a Bad Thing?
Why should you care what other people think of you? It’s your journey, and you can live your life on your own terms. While this may be true, stigma isn’t always easy to ignore. Addiction stigma can significantly disrupt the recovery process, making it harder to stay on the path of sobriety.
Stigma can make a person feel ashamed. As a result, they worry about the way other people will treat them if they know what’s happening. That may mean you take steps to avoid others knowing you’re getting treatment for addiction. For example, when someone hands you a drink at a party, you struggle to say no. That puts you at risk for relapse.
It’s common for people with addiction to say they wished they sought treatment sooner or stopped using long ago. The fear of someone else finding out that they had an addiction is one of the most common reasons people don’t seek treatment sooner.
How Can You Overcome Stigma?
Stigma impacts people with disabilities, disease, addiction, and much more. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention label it as a type of discrimination. Recognizing that, consider these strategies to help yourself overcome it.
Educate Yourself About Addiction
Learn about addiction. Dive deeply into the science of why addiction happens and what dependence does in the brain. Knowing more about addiction will allow you to fight stigma in yourself and in others. Your knowledge can teach others how to avoid stigma, such as changing their language when speaking about people who have a substance use disorder.
Create opportunities for other people who have addictions to get the help they need. You might encourage a friend to get support or tell a parent it’s okay if they need your help to reach sobriety.
Recognize Your Worth
No matter why you believe you started using or how addiction formed, recognize that you’re worth the effort of beating addiction. You’re worth the hard work, the patience, and the mistakes. You’re worthy of the opportunities that sobriety will bring. At French Creek Recovery Center, we can help you recognize your worth, and get started building the life you deserve.