Addiction is complex, scary and difficult to overcome. Whether you have personal experience with addiction, or someone you love is living with the disease, stigmas and stereotypes surrounding substance abuse only make recovery that much more challenging. This September, during National Recovery Month, here are three ways you can challenge some stigmas relating to addiction and substance abuse and support those attempting recovery.
1. Understanding addiction
One of the biggest reasons so many stigmas surrounding substance abuse exist is because many people don’t understand addiction. While no one can understand exactly what people living with addiction go through, understanding the science of addiction can help lessen some of the social stigmas facing addicts and their loved ones.
Addiction is a disease. As a society, if we view addiction and substance abuse through the same lens we see a disease like Type 2 diabetes, we can begin to better help those who suffer from it.
2. Realizing every addiction is different
Recovery is different for every person and family that experiences substance abuse. What works for some people might not work for others. The causes, symptoms and even the effects substance abuse can have on a person vary greatly, meaning recovery can take on just as many forms.
As a person suffering with an addiction, it’s important to know that just because one form of treatment isn’t the right one for you, doesn’t mean recovery isn’t right for you. For families and loved ones of addicts, realizing every addiction is different offers hope for recovery in the future.
3. Letting go of stereotypes
There are many stereotypes attached to people with addictions—most of them negative—but the reality is addiction affects people from all walks of life. Letting go of preconceived stereotypes will help people and their families seek help and support for the addictions they’re working through.
Stigmas attached to addiction only intensify the challenges people and their loved ones face when working to overcome substance abuse. If everyone challenges those stigmas by working to better understand addiction, treating each addiction as its own and by looking past negative stereotypes, we can all focus on what matters most, recovery.