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fighting stigma
September 22, 2020

Fighting the Stigma of Addiction in Early Recovery

Unaddressed drug and alcohol abuse is an ongoing health epidemic in the U.S. Though qualified treatment centers exist throughout the nation, many people remain in denial about the extent of their illness and unaware of the resources that exist to help them. One reason people don’t seek the lifesaving treatment they need is the lingering stigma associated with addiction. 

Despite the extensive scientific research demonstrating that addiction is a disease, we haven’t made the strides necessary to spread this valuable information and make it publicly approachable. As a result, society tends to look down on people with substance use disorders, labeling them as weak, unfit or morally flawed. 

Once you take the courageous first step of admitting you have a problem and need to enter a treatment program, your life will change significantly. One thing you can do is proactively learn how to fight the stigma, discrimination and fallacies associated with addiction. Try these ideas to get you started.

1. Be Honest About What You’re Going Through

Inaccurate media portrayals have led to widespread misconceptions about what living with addiction looks like. Because of this, many people may not realize drug and alcohol addictions can affect people from any walk of life. As soon as you feel comfortable doing so, talk to your neighbors, co-workers and friends about your experiences with substance abuse and how you’re working to reclaim your physical and mental well-being through therapy and a dedicated support system. In doing so, you can educate people about the realities of addiction in everyday life and spread the message that the compulsion to use drugs and alcohol isn’t a choice. 

2. Understand Your Addiction Doesn’t Define You

You know yourself better than anyone, but that also means you criticize yourself more harshly than you would other people. It may take time for you to overcome emotions like shame and guilt in early recovery. You’ll also need to avoid falling into the trap of self-stigma, and accept that your life is larger than your disease. Though drugs and alcohol have limited you thus far, many rewarding experiences await you in sobriety, and you deserve to be happy. 

3. Point out Stigma When You See It

The stigma of addiction is so prevalent that it’s permeated our culture. The average person may have become desensitized to pejorative labels such as “junkie,” or be unaware of the ways our health care and criminal justice system often discriminate against addicts. Another way to do your part to address the stigma and prejudice associated with substance abuse is to identify it and explain why it’s actively harmful. You can gradually start to replace negative attitudes with facts, based on your real-life experiences with addiction and recovery.

4. Surround Yourself With Positive Supporters 

In early recovery, one of your top priorities will be to repair damaged relationships, but you might also discover the need to cut ties with anyone who might threaten your sobriety by being a negative influence. The supportive, healthy relationships you form with people you meet in treatment or while working through your 12-step program will help motivate you to keep achieving your goals and not surrendering to stigma.   

Experience Recovery at Beach House 

Breaking the cycle of substance misuse is an attainable objective once you have the knowledge and tools necessary to manage your disease for the long term. At Beach House, we’ll empower you to fight stigma and overcome your addiction with evidence-based treatment methods in a center for clinical excellence.

Beach House’s compassionate culture, paired with our industry-leading client-to-therapist ratio, have helped us solidify our reputation within the recovery community. We recently received independent confirmation of this, when Newsweek magazine named us to their list of the best treatment centers for 2020. To learn more about our continuum of care and resort-like amenities, reach out to us today.

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