How to Handle the Stigma of Addiction
The Reality of Addiction Stigma
If you’ve read other posts here at the BornFree Wellness Center blog, you know the phrase that has become a sort of credo here: opiate addiction is a disease, not a moral failing, and addicts are medical patients who can’t get better alone. The support of friends and family and or medical intervention are necessary components of any lasting recovery.
Unfortunately, the rest of the world has yet to be convinced. Drug addiction is still stigmatized such that the suffering are socially ostracized, mocked, and often ineligible for employment or assistance.
If you or a loved one is addicted or seeking treatment, don’t despair. Dealing with the stigma of addiction is, similar to may aspects of the recovery process, a case of mind over matter.
Put Yourself First
Addiction patients need to focus on their recovery at all costs. If you are facing criticism or hostile treatment because of your condition, you should seek to remove yourself from the persons or situations that lead to the destructive comments.
You need to believe in yourself, but you should also give yourself time to grow into your new, healthy lifestyle. Don’t let negative comments or taunting cause you to fall back into an old pattern of drug abuse. Focus intently on improving your lifestyle and habits and limit your exposure to negative media and persons.
Communicate with Supporters
You should share your feelings with your sponsor and loved ones on a regular basis. As you enter your recovery, you may find that people treat you differently or don’t know what to make of your situation. This is normal, and it will improve over time as your ability to open up and communicate about your experience improves.
Change the Conversation
By far the most powerful way to cement your recovery and to embrace your second chance at life is to use your experience to help others.
As a sober, recovered person, you can stand up for others who haven’t yet found their voices. You can be an activist and educator about the danger of drugs to your community. And, you can guide people who are struggling toward help and recovery.
Many addiction counselors and clinicians are people who have beaten addiction themselves. Use your voice to let others know that people suffering from addiction don’t deserve derision or rejection, but rather a helping hand and the love of their fellow man.