The Social Stigma of Interaction With The Legal System and Incarceration
If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, the social stigma of addiction can get in the way of getting help.
This is a huge challenge for those suffering from addiction.
Stigmas are created by society.
Whether this is from friends, family, or even your employer, they can cause a lot of issues for those who need to seek addiction treatment.
Especially when you are someone who has been incarcerated, there is an added stigma based on where you have been and what you have struggled with.
Because addiction is a disease, it needs to be treated with proper medical treatment and care.
These forms of treatment can include medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, fitness regimens, vitamin treatments, and even skill development.
Despite these programs being proven to work, some people still do not believe that alcoholism or drug addiction is a disease.
This is where the social stigma of addiction comes in.
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What is Addiction vs The Social Stigma of Addiction?
Some people in society believe that if you are an alcoholic you just can’t hold your liquor.
Another example of this is someone who smokes a lot of marijuana.
They are “just lazy”, or they “just need to quit”.
They might also think that someone who does methamphetamine should just quit and that they enjoy the drug.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
This is the social stigma of addiction.
This is one of the factors that makes it so hard for addicts to quit despite negative consequences.
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Is the Social Stigma of Addiction Really a Problem?
In our society, there are millions of people who are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. Despite this, only a small percentage receive treatment at a facility. Studies found that in 2014, 21.5 million Americans age 12 and older had a substance use disorder within the last year. Out of all these people, only 2.5 million received the treatment that they needed to overcome their addiction.
Societal stigma not only affects addicts but everyone in society. Stigma can create issues with racism or those with mental health issues. It affects housing and schooling. The social stigma of addiction begins with something far greater than what it is on its own, but it is a societal problem as a whole.
Social Stigma of Addiction: Who Are Addicts?
Addiction can happen to anyone, but the social stigma of addiction is that people believe substance abusers are “low lifes”, or people without drive. The reality of substance abuse is that it can happen to anyone.
Addicts can be your friends, family, coworkers, your doctor, a police officer, or even your child. Addicts are able to maintain jobs while quietly carrying on their addiction until they can’t. You might never know about a silent addiction until someone overdoses or slips up at work. Whether you are rich or poor, old or young, anyone can suffer from addiction.
The Problem With The Social Stigma of Addiction
When different people in different positions are faced with an addict, social stigma can come into play. Medical workers might see an addict and assume that they hurt themselves by “choosing” drugs. Law enforcement officers can see an alcoholic driving under the influence and state that they “made a bad choice”.
Although it was your choice to try a drug in the first place or get drunk when you need to drive, these are symptoms of addiction. If you have a substantial problem with substances, you may not be able to exist without hurting others.
This is precisely why you need to get help. If all of these individuals have this social stigma of addiction in their minds, then it will be very uncomfortable to come out and say anything about it. You may also feel shame surrounding it, and not get help until it is too late.
How to Reduce the Stigma of Addiction
Changing the stigma of addiction, along with stereotypes associated with drug and alcohol problems is important. The best way to do this is to be open about your struggles and recovery. If more people speak out about their struggles, then other people who are looking to get help will feel empowered to do so. It is possible to recover from drug and alcohol addiction. It is a chronic disease that can be managed. It simply needs a bit of help and support from those in the community.
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How to Get Help For Addiction
The first step to getting help for addiction is recognizing the signs. Signs that someone is struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol are different for everyone, but there are a few main signs that can be recognized in many addicts.
- Appearing intoxicated every time you see them.
- Developing memory problems.
- Seeemiing “out of it”.
- Lying about nothing.
- Lying about where they are going or what they are doing.
- Being lethargic.
- Sleeping more or during irregular hours.
- Developing problems with responsibilities. Might include poor school performance, dropping out, or losing your job.
- Attending social events only if there will be an opportunity to do drugs or alcohol.
- Stealing to pay for drugs or alcohol.
- Lying about doing drugs or drinking.
- Lying about how often you abuse drugs or drink.
- Becoming overly emotional when faced with questions regarding substance use.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not under the influence.
- Poor hygiene and change in appearance.
If you are struggling with a substance abuse problem then you may behave very differently when you are on drugs or alcohol. This is because people always assume they are one way but actually act another. This might lead to drinking and driving, or taking other extremely dangerous risks. These behavioral problems are some of the biggest risks of addiction.
The Social Stigma of Addiction and Mental Illness
When mental illness and addiction occurs at the same time, it is called a dual diagnosis. This is because you have co-occurring disorders. It is incredibly difficult to deal with both a mental illness and addiction because you will not only have the social stigma of addiction, but also the stigma of mental health.
Although one in four people are plagued by mental health issues, and half of all those people have an addiction, our society does not fully support mental health. If you break your arm everyone will ask you if you are ok and how you are feeling, but if you have a mental health problem, you might feel embarrassed.
Our society is becoming more understanding about mental health, but it is still difficult to ask your boss to provide you with a “mental health day” if you are feeling depressed. Once again, the best way to combat this is to talk about it.
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The Social Stigma of Addiction and Treatment
At Resurgence Behavioral Health we know how difficult it can be to struggle with addiction.
Regardless of the social stigma around addiction, it is important to push forward.
We offer free insurance verification for treatment to help you with that.
Do not let stigma hold you back from saving your life.
Addiction is different for everyone, but there is also help for every individual needs.
Contact us today for more information on how to get started.