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There have long been many barriers that individuals face in attempting to overcome their addictions. There is, of course, the immediate issue of being able to overcome the addiction itself, but there are other barriers as well. There have been many quandaries as to the exact labeling of addiction, which has led to various handlings and methodologies being employed to address it. Some of these have been more helpful, while others have made it more difficult for those who are struggling with addictions. For a long time, addiction was viewed as a behavioral or criminal issue, which often led to quite negative views of it. Because of the past views of addiction and modern societal opinions, there tends to be an extremely large stigma that surrounds it.
A stigma is essentially the viewing of something in a more negative light, or when a group has these types of viewpoints or perspective of something. It is looking down on someone who struggles with a particular condition because of fixated beliefs upon that condition. A large issue with stigmas is the fact that they are often based on presumptions, generalizations, and assumptions, rather than facts or evidence. It leads to the development of derogatory terms for addiction, such as “junkie” or “meth head.” While some may feel these are fitting labels for those in these conditions, they factually worsen and further the stigma surrounding addiction.
The Commonality of Addiction Stigma
This stigma can be quite plainly seen throughout our society. From how the media displays it to how others comment upon it. People look at addicts like the scum of the earth and refer to them as they are less than human beings.
This stigma impacts the ability for individuals to seek treatment in a multitude of ways. For instance, one of the largest is the fact that many individuals don’t even seek treatment due to wanting to avoid being looked down on or criticized by society. They struggle in silence simply out of fear of the public scorn. This is also within the criminal justice system, where there may be many who want to seek help but are afraid to ask out of fear of legal repercussions. Over the years, addicts have been continuously punished legally for various reasons, and this created a situation of many feeling like they could not seek help.
Situations like the above were often due largely to the viewpoint of addiction being a criminal or behavioral issue. As in punishing them could help to stop them from using, but this is often not the case. Imprisonment often does nothing for addiction being that there is more to it than simply the cessation of substances. It often requires treatment for the person to be able to truly address and overcome their addiction. Those imprisoned for drug use or possession and other types of similar circumstances often relapse once released because the root causes and issues of their addiction were never addressed.
The Gradual Change of the Stigma
Fortunately, this stigma has begun to change in very subtle ways. For instance, there have been areas across the country that have begun to switch from punishment over into the treatment of addicts. They focus on getting those struggling immediately into treatment to assist them, with some cities offering reduced sentences or probation with the attendance of treatment. The Surgeon General had even based his 2016 report around addiction, and he had extensively discussed the point of reducing the stigma of addiction and the need for helping these individuals.
The reality is that these individuals are struggling, and they need assistance to overcome their addictions. While there are those who refuse to seek treatment, there are also a large amount who are reaching for assistance and want nothing more than to be able to break free of the shackles of their addiction. This includes those who are not reaching out for help because of the fear of reproval and criticism. There needs to be a large shift toward helping these individuals so that we can allow those withholding their addictions to be able to admit them and receive the help that they need.
When Searching for a Drug or Alcohol Rehabilitation Center
Addiction treatment can be one of the greatest things that an individual can do. Treatment can assist a person to be able to get to the base of their addiction and understand and overcome it. There are a wide variety of different treatment centers across the country, and this can make it confusing to know which one to choose. Our staff can help with that, as they can inform you of the different centers across the country, as well as their offerings. Do not wait, call us today.