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Doing Your Part to Reduce Stigma Surrounding Addiction

Many people struggle in silence for far too long when it comes to addiction for a variety of different reasons. Some might not know or truly believe that help is available to them. However, others may avoid seeking treatment as a result of the stigma surrounding addiction. The good news is that you can do your part to help reduce stigma so that everyone can feel comfortable reaching out for help when they need it. 

Stigma is a negative belief or opinion about someone due to a particular characteristic about them. In many cases, this characteristic is something that is out of their control. At Sage Recovery, we recognize that it is important for everyone to play a role in reducing the damaging stigma surrounding addiction. This can be done by becoming educated, spreading awareness, and using de-stigmatizing language. 

In recent years, we have come a long way as a society in reducing the stigma surrounding addiction. Yet, there is still plenty of progress to be made. Do your part to reduce stigma by starting today.

Reduce Stigma Surrounding Addiction: Educate Yourself

The first thing that you can do to reduce stigma is to educate yourself. It is easy to contribute to negative stigma without even realizing it. Often this could be because you were taught incorrect information or simply because you were not aware of the dangers of stigma. You may also have a skewed idea of what addiction truly is. 

When it comes to addiction, there are still many who believe that those who struggle with substance misuse are to blame for their circumstances. This is simply not the case. Addiction is not something that anybody chooses; it is a struggle that can reach a point where alcohol and drug use becomes simply out of their control. 

Addiction is a disease and a legitimate health condition. There are a variety of different factors that can affect a person’s likelihood of developing addiction, such as their genetics, environmental conditions, or life circumstances. When you educate yourself about the truth of addiction, you can begin to do your part in reducing stigma. 

Other damaging stigmas and false beliefs about addiction include that those who struggle with addiction:

Reduce Stigma Surrounding Addiction: Avoid Stigmatizing Language

The stigmatizing language surrounding addiction portrays those struggling with substance use in a negative light. It can do a lot of damage by dehumanizing the person who is struggling. This negative language may also cause them to be worried about experiencing judgment or ridicule if they do tell someone about their addiction. As a result, they may put off getting treatment, which could put their life in jeopardy. 

The goal of avoiding stigmatizing language surrounding addiction is to make sure that you are putting the person before the disorder. This ensures that you are giving them the respect and dignity that they deserve. In many cases, this is as simple as swapping out stigmatizing words and phrases with person-first language.

For example, the term “alcoholic” is stigmatizing. Using person-first language, such a term can be replaced with “a person who struggles with alcohol use disorder (AUD).” This way, you are not suggesting that someone’s struggle with substance use makes up their whole identity. 

You should also try to avoid using words like “clean” or “dirty” when describing where someone is with their journey with addiction and recovery. Suggesting that someone who is currently struggling with addiction is unclean is very damaging and disrespectful. Instead, you could say, “someone who is in recovery” or “someone who is in active addiction.” 

Other examples of word and phrase swaps to make include: 

Reduce Stigma Surrounding Addiction: Spread Awareness

At Sage Recovery, we believe that anyone can play an important role in reducing the stigma surrounding addiction. Consider using your social media platforms to spread awareness. It doesn’t matter if you have 100 followers or 1,000, you never know who might be inspired by what you share. 

You can also make an active effort to change your language surrounding substance use, abuse, and addiction. In addition, you can gently correct others when they use damaging words or phrases. They might not realize the problem with their language until you inform them. Simple steps like these can make a large impact on reducing stigma. 

Addiction can affect anyone regardless of age, race, nationality, or gender. It is not something that someone chooses or something that they can control. With the resources that we have available now, there is no reason that anyone should have to struggle with substance use alone. We can all do our part in making it as easy as possible for those who are struggling to seek help. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, our team at Sage Recovery can help. Give us a call at (512) 306-1394 today. A member of our team will be happy to answer any questions you might have about the treatment we provide.