One of the things you should be most proud of in your life is your decision to recover from drug or alcohol addiction and your ongoing pursuit of a happy and healthy drug and alcohol-free life.

Unfortunately, however, there is still a stigma that surrounds addiction recovery, and in some cases, this stigma can hold recovering addicts back.

This is sad because recovery is an amazing, incredible and beautiful thing, and people who are working hard on their recovery should be celebrated and praised, not shunned.

Read on to learn about the stigma attached to recovery and what you can do to overcome it.

What is the Stigma of Addiction?

Stigma is defined as a negative set of beliefs that a larger group feels about a smaller group for one reason or another. When a person experiences a negative stigma, they are viewed as somehow lesser than the larger group for health, economic, religious, political, or other reasons.

Addiction is a complicated issue. It can happen to anyone and is caused by a number of factors that are often out of the addicted party’s control. People become addicted to drugs and alcohol for many reasons, but some of them are mental health issues, socio-economic status, mental, emotional, or physical trauma, lack of access to healthcare, and lack of access to treatment.

Many people today recognize that drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, yet people who experience these conditions often must live with a negative stigma on top of the fact that they are already suffering.

As a result, people who are addicted to drugs face discrimination. Generalizations and preconceptions are made about them because addictive substances have consumed them. Outsiders may automatically view addicts as weak, dirty, untrustworthy, lazy, or worse. This will only compound their negative relationships with these substances.

Worse yet, this stigma often carries over even to people who are in recovery. Breaking free of addiction to drugs and alcohol is no easy task. Individuals who have successfully done so are very strong. Sometimes, people in recovery relapse; this is part of the process. But many people believe that if someone was once an addict, he or she will always exhibit the behavior of addicts, even after being successful in recovery for quite some time.

This simply is not true.  As a recovering addict yourself, you know that people do change. People can and do recover, and you are living proof.

Sure, you made some mistakes in the past, but there is no reason a negative stigma should follow you around for the rest of your life.

Unfortunately, however, many people in recovery struggle to shake this negative stigma but have little success in doing so effectively.

Read on to learn about ways you can reduce this negative stigma for both yourself and for others.

How to Reduce the Effects of the Stigma of Addiction

There are several ways you can help to reduce the stigma of addiction and addiction recovery. Some of these suggestions are better than others, but use what works for you. In some cases, these suggestions will work to help you personally; in other cases they will help people in recovery on a larger scale.

Keep Your Recovery to Yourself

One way to personally avoid the stigma that surrounds people who are working on their recovery from addiction is to not tell people that you are in recovery. If you are well along the way on your journey, most new people you encounter may never find out about your past anyway. Unfortunately, this is really just avoiding the issue, and is not really fair to you. Your recovery should be celebrated, not hidden from the world.

However, if you work or socialize somewhere that you think your recovery will be scorned, rather than celebrated, perhaps in some cases hiding your past may be the best choice you can make.

Don’t Use Negative Labels

There are so many negative names used to describe people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Terms like crackhead, drug feind, drunk, junkie, wino, and more only work to further stigmatize people who are suffering in a negative way. Even if you are using these terms to refer to your own past, maybe consider using different terminology. Addicts are suffering, and should not be described in these ways. They are human beings, not caricatures of negative terminology.

Prove Yourself

It’s a real shame that you have to prove yourself to anyone, but sometimes, that’s just what we have to do. If  you suspect that someone holds a negative opinion of people in recovery, go above and beyond to prove them wrong. Don’t just be prompt; be early. Don’t just work hard; be the hardest worker in the office. Hopefully, this will serve to squash any negative stigma not only about you but about people in recovery that the individual encounters in the future, too.

Advocacy

Working towards a world in which people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol can get help easily, and a world in which individuals who have overcome addiction are revered, is a good way to help reduce the stigma of addiction on a large scale. Speak out when people use negative terminology to describe people who are addicted. Push your local, state, and federal governments to provide more help for the people who need it. Encourage your employer to hire people who are working on their recovery.

The views that Americans have regarding people who are suffering from addiction are changing, but we still have a long way to go.

Publicly Support People in Recovery

Most of all, offer support and guidance to people who are working on their recovery.  As you may know, recovery is a long and winding road and an uphill battle. When you know that there are people out there who love and support you, that journey becomes a little easier. Stand by them and be visible in their world. It’s a lot easier to fight a battle if you know you have backup support that isn’t afraid to face the fires right by your side.

Fight Back Against Negative Stigma

Standing up for yourself and for others in recovery is crucial. Again, your efforts to change your life for the better should be celebrated and revered. Don’t let the beliefs of others defeat you. You are a champion!

At Clear Sky Recovery, we are here to help you get started on your path to recovery.  Our ibogaine detox treatment is innovative and effective, and our staff is standing by to answer any questions you may have about our staff, our facility, or the process.  Please give us a call today!  We can’t wait to hear from you!

Resources:

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/stigma

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323483.php

https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/addiction-science