There is no question that many families find it difficult to discuss substance use and addiction. After all, there is a great deal of misunderstanding around the topic. It is easy to try to deny the dangers of substance use, make jokes about the topic, or simply avoid talking about substance use instead of having in-depth discussions.
There is a societal stigma surrounding addictions. Many people have heard mixed opinions and judgments about drug and alcohol use. Even discussions about compulsive behaviors such as gambling addiction, sex addiction, and even food addiction can bring out great deals of misinformation, arguments, and debate.
Stigma is defined as a “mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation”. It is natural to want to avoid such a thing! The stigma that surrounds substance use is often based on myths, misunderstandings, and assumptions. Unfortunately, the stigma that surrounds addiction also prevents many people from seeking support and treatment.
Fortunately, the stigma around addiction is changing. As science proves that there are multiple causes of addiction, and that addiction often co-exists with other conditions that are all treatable, many people have redefined their approach to addiction and recovery.
Creating Healthy Conversation Around Addiction
Addiction and substance use are not shameful topics. In fact, these issues can often involve very interesting discussions about psychology, motivation, and living happier lives. A frank and honest discussion about substance that looks at all angles of the issue can even help clear up confusion and misunderstanding, and it may help prevent problems down the road.
In some cases, families have difficulty discussing addiction because it has had a very negative impact on everyone’s lives. Sometimes a simple discussion about substance use can be emotionally draining or drudge up issues from the past. There are times when the support of a non-judgmental counselor or mental health professional can help ease tension and help clear any misunderstandings or anxiety.
Breaking the Stigma in Our Lives and Our Communities
If you have a loved one in a concerning situation, it can feel even more intimidating to discuss addiction and substance use. Yet, waiting for your loved one to ask for help can be a very dangerous strategy. If left untreated, addiction and substance use disorders can lead to arrests, job loss, loss of scholarships or other goals, medical emergencies, dangerous social situations, and even severe illness or death. Simply waiting for one of these crises to arrive is not a good solution.
The struggle with the stigma surrounding substance use and addiction must first heal within each individual. Again, a counselor can be a great help in these situations. Because therapy offers a private environment, a non-judgmental interaction, and reliable data and information, a counseling office is an ideal place to begin a path to wellness. If the addiction of a loved one has impacted your life personally, the stress and strain may have taken an emotional or physical toll. Therefore, it is even more important to seek healing for yourself, as well.
Once support and healing have begun within, you can become part of a greater change. You can share information about the nature and complexity of substance use disorders and you can share information about healing from substance use and addiction with friends and family. There are many community groups that seek to help create an atmosphere of healing for their cities and communities.
One way to create change is to join in on walks or runs to bring awareness about recovery from substance use and mental health disorders. Another way to help create change is to volunteer. Anything that you do as an individual to break the stigma associated with addiction may help another family overcome apprehension about seeking help.
Don’t let misunderstanding and misinformation stop you or your family from reaching optimum health. Join the movement to create healing and change. There are many movements that contribute to breaking the stigma.
Heroes In Recovery breaks the stigma of addiction and mental health disorders through the power of storytelling, celebrating heroic efforts of those who seek the help they need without feeling ashamed or isolated. Our movement thrives on the personal journeys of survivors — addicts, those struggling with mental health issues, their family members, and friends — to bring truth to the spotlight and create a global community of support.
Foundations Recovery Network‘s mission is to be the leader in evidence-based, integrated treatment for co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders through clinical services, education and research. Our vision is to be the best at delivering effective, lasting treatment and providing superb experiences across our continuum of care in all places