Humanizing Substance Abuse

For decades those suffering with drug and alcohol dependencies have been unfairly and hurtfully labeled. Today the country is ensconced in a drug epidemic of historical and frightening proportions with death rates climbing every year. Considerable research is ongoing to determine causes, collect data with the ultimate goal being to stem the tide of addiction and death.

One such course of action is to humanize addiction by ending stigmatization. As a society, many have been brainwashed to think those people with addictions don’t care, are lazy, just want to live off the system and get high. Can our American society be reprogrammed to think of those with addictions as human beings with a severe health problem?

NIMBYs or those who say not in my backyard, can block a community’s effort to address the shortage of housing for those in recovery who need a safe place from which to reintegrate into society. They can be of the opinion that all recovering persons are criminals that will try to persuade their kids to take drugs or alcohol. This thinking is not helpful.

Depression, anxiety and signs of relapse can be a result of those in recovery due to a lack of acceptance from family, friends, employers, and the community. Some persons with substance addictions lose their jobs, too. These occurrences are not necessarily because of an addiction, but because people don’t know or can’t accept that an addiction may be under control, or even possess the knowledge that it is a disease.

Those in recovery and family members of those in recovery can help change substance abuse stigmas by telling their story. Awareness, timing and personal vulnerability are important considerations when doing so. The Voices Project was started after the AIDS epidemic was raging across the country and false information was destroying lives. The Voices Project has come out of the opioid crisis and is one source for sharing personal experiences with addiction. You can also make a difference by calling the editor of your local newspaper and asking if a weekly column can be set up for local addiction-related stories.

When you share your story, whether to a friend, colleague or neighbor, you will be helping to fight the stigma of addiction. Reaching just one person, who hasn’t asked for help because of the stigma played on them, will be priceless in the fight to stem substance abuse.

“You are not your illness. You have an individual story to tell. You have a name, a history, a personality. Staying yourself is part of the battle.”—Julian Seifter

Do you need a safe place to move from substance addiction into recovery? Act now by calling Infinity Malibu. Not only is the treatment top notch, but so are the facilities, complete with privacy and spectacular ocean views. 888-266-9048

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