Stigma occurs when someone has a negative, discriminatory view of someone because of something outside of their control, such as the disease of addiction. Because of the negative effects of addiction, the disease comes with a lot of stigmas. Sadly, many people treat those struggling with the disease negatively simply because they are battling the condition. This stigma often makes people who need help avoid signing up for addiction treatment because they fear what other people will think of them. Ending the stigma of addiction will help more people get the help they need. Here are three specific steps you can take to do your part to help. Northern Illinois Recovery Center knows the importance of overcoming stigma so individuals can get the support they need to heal from the disease of addiction.
Use Stigma-Free Language
The way you talk about addiction, whether your own battle or the battle of someone you know, matters. Calling the person an “addict” or “drunk,” for instance, brings a negative view to them and their battle. Instead, use phrases like:
- Person fighting addiction
- Person fighting alcoholism
- Individual in recovery
This type of person-first language helps. It shows the person as an individual first and places their disease second. It also has fewer negative feelings than slang terms often used to talk about people fighting addiction.
These simple changes will go far to end the stigma and help people feel comfortable getting the help they need. The right language helps push people towards getting help, rather than causing them to feel embarrassed or ashamed. They can spark transformation instead of causing people to hide.
Addiction is something often spoken of in hushed conversations. Keeping it secret actually doesn’t help. It creates more stigma surrounding the disease.
Instead, addiction needs to be something people talk about. Those in recovery need to speak up and talk about their experiences and what they need from their communities. Those who care about someone fighting recovery need to speak up and show their support, offering help when needed. People who have successfully recovered need to talk about their journeys and struggles.
Speaking up matters because it shows the community that people in recovery are normal people who need help to fight disease. By removing the mystery of addiction, you will also be helping to remove the stigma of addiction.
When speaking up, those who are not fighting addiction themselves can become advocates to those who are. When someone is in the throes of their addiction battle or is just starting recovery, they often feel alone. Their family members also feel overwhelmed and hurt. Advocating for them and their families and offering the hand of friendship will help reduce stigma while also creating a positive experience for that individual.
Support Recovery Services
Finally, even if addiction doesn’t personally affect you, you can help end the stigma of addiction by supporting addiction treatment in your community. Talking to community leaders about the need for treatment, raising funds to help treatment centers, and volunteering your time to help all can assist these vital community resources. When people spend time and energy supporting treatment options in their community, stigma starts to fade.
Addiction treatment is vital to healing. Yet, the stigma of addiction can hurt treatment centers. It also prevents people who need help from seeking it. By taking these three steps, you can do your part to end the stigma surrounding this all-too-common disease.
If you are ready to do your part to end the stigma of addiction, Northern Illinois Recovery is ready to help. Contact Northern Illinois Recovery at 855.786.1978 to discuss your personal need for recovery or learn more about how you can help others in your community find help.