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How Can You Help a Loved One Overcome Addiction Stigma?

John Templeton Jr. - August 19, 2019

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When we talk about the stigma of drug addiction, we’re discussing the shame, disgrace and negative associations people make with the condition. These feelings often come from assumptions and not facts. They fail to consider the person and instead perpetuate an ongoing cycle that shames and embarrasses those afflicted with addiction.

Addiction stigma is often cited as one of the biggest reasons people don’t seek professional help. But there are some things you can do to help a loved one move past this shame to get the help he or she needs.

How the Public Harms the Individual Through Addiction Stigma

Common misconceptions about addiction are often based on generalizations related to behaviors that are observed by people struggling with this disease. Impaired judgment, erratic behavior and the consequences of these states of being are used to stereotype the people involved.

Many still believe that addiction is based on a lack of willpower or a broken moral compass. However, more and more research shows that addiction is a serious disease of the brain with a variety of genetic and environmental factors. It can happen to anyone from any walk of life.

Unfortunately, the drug use stigma that persists is part of the reason why 90% of the millions afflicted with addiction don’t seek help. It actively suppresses programs that may help, like substitution treatments and needle exchange programs. Even among the healthcare community, addiction stigma held by doctors, nurses and other medical professionals can stand in the way of someone getting the help they need.

The Deeply Personal Impact of Drug Use Stigma

The stigma related to addiction causes significantly negative impacts to a person’s:

  • Self-esteem
  • Relationships with loved ones, and
  • Drive to seek treatment and healing

The shame, guilt and embarrassment paralyze the individual and their family from taking action that can help. No one wants to invite public scrutiny and judgment into their private matters. Society’s view of substance abuse as a matter of crime and punishment fuels these fears, which often leads to social isolation and loneliness, complicating matters further.

Coping with Addiction Stigma

While a massive public education effort is needed to combat much of the widespread stigma of addiction, you can help a loved one cope with it on a local level by:

  • Offering compassionate support
  • Speaking up for those being mistreated because of drug use
  • Understanding their vulnerability
  • Listening without judging
  • Seeing the individual person and understanding they are not defined by their condition
  • Educating yourself and your family about addiction and treatment options
  • Avoiding labels like druggie, junkie, etc. that imply moral judgments

Get Help at Footprints Beachside Recovery

It’s difficult to talk about something like addiction when there are so many prejudices and misconceptions, but it’s a vital conversation if you want to help your loved one get better. Be ready to help them overcome common excuses and move beyond the stigma of addiction together as a family.

At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we understand addiction on a personal level. We have gone through the struggle and came out the other side to find a happier, healthier life. You can experience healing, too. Don’t wait another moment. Contact our addiction professionals today for a confidential conversation about treatment options for your loved one.

Call Now: 877-250-3935