In as much as words hurt and can be dangerous, the wrong information can do damage too. This is what happens with addiction stigma.
The stigma of addiction is a dangerous perception that prevents millions of people all over the world to seek and get treatment for their substance use disorder. Many people, especially here in our country, still believe that addiction is a choice, that people who get addicted have a moral failing or a character flaw. These people are selfish, weak, and don’t deserve compassion. These baseless notions fosters fear among addicts, stopping them from reaching out for help. Ultimately, this can then cause them to sink deeper into addiction. Some of them even don’t become so luck as they lose their lives.
So how do you correct the misinformation and stop the addiction stigma from spreading?
Here are some tips on what you can do to break the dangerous addiction stigma that keeps people from getting help, shames them for their addiction, and even claims their lives.
1. Be correctly informed. Seek out correct information about addiction. The internet has a plethora of information regarding this, it’s just a matter of separating the chaff from the grain. Make sure the information you get are from reliable sources. You may even talk to medical specialists, public health officials, and addiction professionals. You may visit our blog to browse through a wide range of resources on addiction, treatment, and recovery.
2. Spread the message. Today, in as much as it’s easy to spread misinformation, it’s also easy to spread the right message, the correct information. Social media is a powerful tool for spreading awareness. Follow reliable resources to find meaningful and correct content that you can share to help combat the addiction stigma.
3. Share your story. It doesn’t take for you or someone you love to be addicted to share your story. It can be from people you’ve come across, or a learning you have found out. Sharing your experiences can be a powerful message.
4. Engage. Join communities, whether online or in the “real world” and be part of change. Take part in discussions and events that can help spread the word about addiction, recovery, and treatment. If you can’t join, support these groups that help banish addiction stigma.
5. Banish your biases. It’s easy to be biased if the issue hits close to home. You may have inaccurate assumptions, and it’s understandable. However, looking at things from an objective standpoint can greatly help. Remove your biases and prejudices because by doing this can you move forward and be enlightened. It helps not only the addict, but also you.
6. Be an advocate. Advocate for addicts in your family or in your community. This doesn’t mean condoning their actions. Knowing when to help and avoid enabling behaviors can greatly help them be on the path towards sobriety and life-long recovery. If you have an addict in your family, use what you know to help them get the professional help you know they badly need.
7. Speak up. Whenever there are conversations about addiction, especially when addiction stigma is in the fore, don’t be afraid to speak up. There’s a way to have an open, constructive, and adult conversation about addiction, treatment, and recovery, and you can lead in this. Whenever you hear or see things that promote the stigma, share what you know. Moreover, be an inspiration.
Banishing addiction stigma is possible. Once we do this, we can be in a better position to beat addiction. However, this doesn’t mean that we have to beat down the addicted person.
For help with an addicted loved one, you may contact us at Bridges of Hope.