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Beating The Stigma of Addiction

Beating The Stigma of Addiction



One of the primary reasons for the stigma of addiction is the belief that addiction arises as a result of the weakness of character. It is a sub-conscious sense of victim blaming that refuses to empathise with a habitual user. A mere mention of the word ‘addict’ or ‘drug user’ can be associated with weakness and flaw, resulting in indiscrimination. Such hostile opinions often keep many people from seeking help and drive them further into addiction.

In one of our Family Meets, professionals spoke about the three different kinds of stigmas and how they affect the individual suffering from addiction and their families. The taboo around addiction manifests itself into self-stigma, family stigma, and public stigma. These stigmas often hinder an individual’s recovery from substance dependence and detrimentally affect the family’s relationship with their loved one. To know more about positive coping strategies against the stigma of addiction, watch the highlights video of our Family Meet.  

Stigma of Addiction

Overcoming the stigma of addiction can help an addict say no to drugs and substances. It can help the individual adopt positive behaviour, which can prove to be a major stepping stone in their journey towards Addiction recovery.

How does the stigma of addiction affect society?

  • Discrimination and reluctance from people around often embarrasses the addict, causing them to isolate themselves and avoid treatment.
  • Many employers perceive a recovering or a past addict as a troublemaker and deny them any work opportunities. Lack of a stable environment job and stay can cause a recovering addict to relapse, making it very difficult to recover.
  • Family and close friends who do not understand the reasons for their substance use treatment options for addiction may distance themselves from the individual, perpetuating substance use.
  • The stigma of addiction instills a fear of being ostracised in the society among high-functioning addicts, which prevents them from coming forth and seeking professional help.

Stigma of Addiction

Beating Addiction Stigma – How to Overcome the Stigma of Addiction?

Stigma of addiction can cause hindrance in the already arduous recovery process. Here are some things to do to overcome the stigma

  • Acceptance – Accepting that one has a drug problem is a crucial step in the recovery process. It ensures that one is mentally ready for treatment.
  • Join a Support Group – Joining a group assures that one is not alone. Through the group, one can connect with people facing similar challenges in their recovery journey. Knowing others in recovery, having supportive families, stable careers, and friends can revive one’s confidence and motivate one to continue treatment and counselling.
  • EducateUnderstand why one turns to substance use for comfort. Learn about treatment options available, including counselling and therapies for addiction, the withdrawal symptoms, and coping mechanisms involved for recovery. Education empowers one with the knowledge to tackle triggers. Many rehabilitation centres conduct drug awareness programs that are proven to be helpful in preventing relapse.
  • Speak up – Share challenges of addiction to create awareness among people. Knowing stories of individuals and their struggles can help destigmatise addiction.

Although sharing one’s story can be daunting, it can be truly helpful in making people understand and empathise. Ultimately better awareness and continued support can help overcome stigma of addiction.

Stigma of Addiction

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is addiction hard to overcome?

Addiction leads to alteration in the prefrontal cortex of the brain and in a person’s dopamine cycle. It impairs judgment and impulse control making it difficult to make good decisions and the body starts needing more dopamine in order to function properly.

How can stigma be reduced?

Stigma can be reduced when we realise that addiction is a social issue. People suffering from substance use disorders should not be persecuted for their choices. One must educate oneself about factors that can cause a predisposition to addiction. The family and the individual must realise that battling stigma is a necessary step to recovery.

What are the different types of stigma?

The different types of stigma include self-stigma, family stigma, and public stigma. Self stigma can be the most detrimental as it affects the individual’s self-perception and may inhibit them from leading on the path to recovery. 

How can stigma affect the family?

Family stigma and public stigma may be a source of shame for the family and they may feel ashamed to help their loved ones recover. In some cases, it may cause imbalances in the family structure and promote hostility in the family. This may in turn, impede recovery.

How does Cadabams treat addiction?

Cadabams recognizes the social and family aspects of addiction as well. It provides support groups for individuals and families. There is a 24/7 support with immediate crisis intervention and a multifaceted team of psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, etc. Cadabams takes evidence and solution-based treatment plans which are customized for every individual.

If you need more information about treatment options for addiction or have any queries, do mail us at info@cadabams.org. Or visit us at Cadabam’s Anunitha. You can also reach out to us on our 24/7 helpline number- +91 96111 94949.

Disclaimer – It is important to note that addiction should be referred to as ‘substance use disorder’ to better address the effects of this psychological condition. Words like addict, junkie, etch should be avoided as they place the blame on the individual. Individuals/person/people suffering from substance use disorder or substance dependence syndrome should be used.