Openness about Addiction—An Idea to Help Stop the Epidemic

A late November 2017 article, Let’s Open Up about Addiction and Recovery, in the New York Times Sunday Review opened up a conversation about anonymity and disclosure. The premise of the article speaks to the stigma associated with alcoholism and drug addiction. Could the stigma of addiction be diluted if people in recovery spoke freely about their individual situation? Would more people be willing to disclose the pain and suffering caused by addiction? Would family members be more forthcoming about the fear they carry for an addicted loved who could die of an overdose?

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935, a time when alcoholism was associated with men in the streets coveting brown paper bags. Buried underneath the stigma were millions of men and women who drank alcoholically in the privacy of their homes. The general public had no awareness that alcoholism was a alcohol-related neurologic disease.

Way too frequently we read obituaries that may be hiding the cause of death due to an overdose, “died suddenly in her home.” The opioid crisis is constantly in the news headlines, with stories of concerned local and government officials scrambling for ideas to curb and stop the epidemic. President Trump even got in on it, but his words, so far, are meaningless, since no funding has yet been allocated. People keep dying. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 64,000 people died in 2016 of a drug overdose.

If there were a grassroots shift towards openness, perhaps more people could console and support one another. Many stories from those in recovery, recount the shame they felt about their addiction to pain pills. If a campaign was promoted to address the shame associated with addiction, then perhaps those addicted would be more likely to seek help.

We won’t know if openness and reducing stigmas could foster more addicts to turn towards recovery, but it’s worth a try. According to the New York Times Sunday Review article, the AIDS epidemic, for example, didn’t receive funding until activists shifted people’s understanding of the disease. The pressure put on the federal Health Resources and Services Administration to increase spending on AIDS programs grew exponentially from the diligence of activists.

Not one method, but the combined efforts of all concerned can make a difference in the opioid crisis in the United States. You can call your local representative and put pressure on them to get adequate funding now for this terrible epidemic.

If you are struggling with an opioid addiction, there is help available. Infinity Malibu offers you the comfort of home and the safety of privacy with an unparalleled residential treatment program. Call us today for information: 888-266-9048

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