There has always been a certain stigma around addiction, though in some cases, this stigma has helped addicts in the long run.
Take tobacco use for example. The stigma around tobacco being hazardous to health has helped the population as a whole become more aware of its effects. However, the same cannot be said for alcohol or drug addictions.
Addiction as a Disease
Even in today’s modern world, addiction is seen not as a disease but as a personal moral failure that one can only overcome if they were strong enough. But that is not the case.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a complex disease, one that takes more than just good intentions or a strong will to rid oneself of. Taking drugs as an example, details on drug use and abuse explain that these addictive substances change our brain chemistry in a way that makes quitting difficult, even if one wants to.
Nevertheless, researchers have found a way to study how these drugs and other addictive substances affect our brains and are working to find treatments that can help people recover from their addiction.
Now that we’ve explained the truth about addiction, let’s get into the details of the stigma relating to it.
Though common sense dictates that it’s quite brave for an addict to seek treatment, the truth is that people under treatment or recovery are often seen differently. Due to preexisting notions about addiction, people consider the person to be weak. In fact, in some cultures, the person is considered a disgrace to society, and that only stands to worsen their efforts for recovery.
On the other hand though, if addiction and the subsequent is something that comes to light for prominent people (rock stars, actors, politicians) they are seen as heroes because they’re coming clean to the public. Some people are even seen as positive role models. So why is it that we cannot offer this support to non-famous people? Why is it that when a person from our society comes forth, they are seen as a disgrace, whereas popular people are considered inspirational for the rest?
Perhaps it’s because they do not want to accept that something so serious could happen to one of us. In reality, addiction is a scary disease, one that can negatively impact us and our lifestyle. When that happens to someone from our own community, it makes the threat more apparent, and that in turn shows us our own vulnerability.
What Should Be Done?
Rather than ignoring this situation or making light of it, the best way to combat addiction and its effects is to understand the complexity of it. Addiction is a serious disorder that affects more than 23.5 million people in the US. And unless our community comes together to understand and support those affected, we may yet see a rise in the numbers.
Orange County Recovery assists all those who seek help for alcohol or drug addiction. We offer treatment for numerous causes and provide our sober living center and residence for recovering patients as well. If you or a loved one needs our help, contact us in California and allow us to guide you to a better and happier lifestyle.