If you suffer from addiction, you may also suffer from the stigma that comes with it. Many people who suffer from addiction feel shame and isolation because of the way society views them. Unfortunately, this stigma can make it difficult for you to get the help you need. Today, we’re going to talk more about coping with the stigma of addiction to help you better understand where these stigmas of addiction come from and how to manage them.
What is the Stigma of Addiction?
First, it’s important to understand what we mean when we talk about the stigma of addiction. Simply put, a stigma is a negative social label that is attached to a person or group of people. In the case of addiction, these stigmas are often based on myths and misconceptions about what addiction is and who suffers from it.
Common Stigmas of Addiction
For example, one common stigma is that addiction is a choice. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Addiction is a chronic disease that alters the way your brain functions. It’s not something you can just “snap out of” or choose to stop doing.
Another common stigma is that people who suffer from addiction are morally bankrupt or weak-willed. This is also untrue. Addiction does not discriminate. It can affect anyone, regardless of their age, race, gender, socioeconomic status, or education level.
Many addicts are susceptible not only to social stigmas of addiction but self-stigmas too. This happens when you start to believe the negative things that other people say about addiction. For example, you might believe that you are weak or morally bankrupt because of your addiction. This can lead to feelings of shame and isolation, which can make it even harder to get help.
Where Do Stigmas Come From?
Many factors contribute to the stigmas of addiction. In some cases, these stigmas are perpetuated by the media. For example, you may see stories about people with addiction that portray them in a negative light. This can create the impression that all people with addiction are criminals or dangerous.
In other cases, stigmas may be based on personal experiences. For example, you may know someone who struggled with addiction and had a negative experience seeking help. This may make you believe that seeking help is pointless or that people with addiction are simply bad people.
Finally, some stigmas may come from a lack of understanding about what addiction is and how it works. Many people still believe addiction is a choice or a moral failing. As a result, they may judge people with addiction and think that they should be able to just stop using.
Regardless of where these stigmas originate, they are most often reinforced by a lack of understanding about what addiction is and how it works.
How Can the Stigma of Addiction Affect Your Sobriety?
Unfortunately, the stigma of addiction often gets in the way of people getting the help they need. Or, the stress and shame they experience from their past addictive behavior could contribute to relapsing.
In some cases, the stigma of addiction may make you feel like you’re not worthy of help or that you don’t deserve to get sober. This can lead you to believe that sobriety is unattainable, which could make it more difficult for you to stay sober in the long term.
In other cases, the stigma of addiction may prevent you from seeking help because you’re afraid of what others will think. This fear can keep you from getting the treatment and support you need to recover.
Stigmas of addiction don’t only affect sobriety, however. They can have a ripple effect throughout your entire life. For example, the stigma of addiction may make it difficult for you to get a job, find housing, or even make friends. This is because many people still don’t understand what addiction is and how it works. As a result, they may judge you based on your past addiction or believe that you’re not capable of change.
Strategies for Coping with the Stigma of Addiction
It’s important to understand that addiction is a real disease and that you aren’t alone. Many people suffer from addiction, and there is help available.
Here are some coping strategies that may help you deal with the stigma of addiction:
Talk to someone who understands
It can be helpful to talk to someone who knows what you’re going through. This could be a friend, family member, therapist, or counselor. Talking about your experiences can help you feel less alone and more understood.
Learning more about addiction can help you see it in a different light. Addiction is a very real disease that affects the brain. It’s not a choice or a moral failing. Understanding this can help you see yourself in a more positive light.
If you feel comfortable, you may also want to educate others about addiction. This can help challenge the negative stereotypes and stigmas that exist. This education could begin in your circle, informing your family or friends about the stigmas of addiction as well as the addiction itself.
(Read more about family roles in addiction next)
There are several helpful educational resources about substance abuse. From websites to in-person groups, books, and podcasts, there is an option for everyone to choose from.
Find a support group
Support groups are a great way to connect with others who understand what you’re going through. These groups provide emotional and social support. They can also be a helpful source of information and resources.
Seek professional help
If you’re struggling to cope with the stigma of addiction, professional help may be necessary. A therapist or counselor can help you work through your feelings and develop coping strategies. If you’re struggling with addiction, they can also connect you with treatment resources.
It’s important to be compassionate with yourself as you deal with the stigma of addiction. Addiction is a disease, and you deserve help and understanding. Remember that you are not your addiction, and it is possible to recover.
Breaking the Stigma of Addiction
You can also play a powerful role in breaking the stigmas of addiction yourself. By sharing your story, you can help others understand the realities of addiction. You can also help challenge the negative stereotypes that exist. In doing so, you can make a difference in the lives of others.
Another helpful strategy is sharing positive outcomes in stories of addiction. These could be stories of recovery or stories of hope. When people see that addiction doesn’t have to end in tragedy, they may be more likely to understand and accept those who suffer from addiction.
Finally, personalizing substance abuse can also help challenge stigmas. This means humanizing those who suffer from addiction. When people see that addiction can affect anyone, they may be more likely to empathize and offer help. For those who might not know someone personally who has struggled with addiction, the bravery to share your personal story can go a long way.
The Bottom Line
The stigma of addiction can be difficult to cope with, but it’s vital to remind yourself that you aren’t alone. Many people understand what you’re going through and can help you on your journey to recovery. Talk to someone who understands, educate yourself about addiction, seek professional help, and practice compassion. These coping strategies can help you deal with the stigma of addiction and move forward in your recovery.
The team at Elysian Sober Services has been where you are. We understand how challenging it can be to get and stay sober, as well as the challenge of coping with the stigma of addiction. If you require sober services, including sober coaching, in Florida, we are here to help. Contact us today to get started.