Although many men and women might at first say that they don’t care about what others think, it’s more common to find that the opinions of others do in fact contribute to the choices people make. For instance, even if you can admit you’re struggling with drug use or drinking, the stigma of addiction might keep you from getting the treatment you need.
Although you might realize that you need treatment to get sober, the stigma of addiction could get in the way of that treatment. In fact, each day there are thousands of men and women who won’t get drug treatment because of the stigma it bears. Those who use drugs or drink heavily tend to be judged by mainstream society. Meanwhile, those who are using drugs and drinking can feel that judgment and it can keep them from getting the treatment they need. However, stigma alone shouldn’t be the reason that keeps you using. This article is meant to provide you with tools to use to break through the stigma of addiction so that you can get the treatment you need.
Interestingly, there are various levels of stigma. For instance, a recent research study found that the stigma associated with drug addiction treatment was higher than with alcohol abuse treatment. The study explored the effects of using a particular short-term type of therapy. The researchers found that brief therapy, a form of individual solution focused treatment, had a positive influence in those addicted to alcohol. But this form of therapy did not work as well with those addicted to illicit drugs. The research team speculated that alcohol use was more socially sanctioned than the use of illicit drugs. As a result, individuals might be more prone to admitting that they have a problem with alcohol and open to acquiring help for it than with illicit drugs.
Regardless of the level of stigma or judgment you’re feeling, if it’s getting in the way of treatment, perhaps learning how to break through that stigma could be useful. The following are five tips to help you move through that barrier:
- Recognize that you need treatment to get sober. Often, a stigma may not get in the way until you’re faced with the challenge of calling a treatment center. It’s then you’ll have to admit that you’re struggling with an addiction. And once you’re in treatment, you might not like the idea of having to talk about the difficulties you’ve faced. Yet, the first step in breaking through the barrier of a stigma is recognizing that treatment is what you need, and accepting that there might be challenging moments to get to the health and well being you’re looking for.
- Connect with others who once struggled with the stigma of addiction and moved through it. When you’re at the beginning of your journey, the stigma of addiction might feel the strongest. However, once you’re past that point and you’ve made connection with others, it’s likely that you’ll hear that the stigma is no longer an issue. Plus, forming relationships with others can be a significant part of recovery and sobriety.
- Keep your attention on treatment. If you’re past the beginning stages of treatment and you’re still feeling the stigma of addiction, place your focus on your sobriety and treatment goals. Staying focused on this goal can help you break through the effects that the stigma of addiction might have on your life.
- Make a plan for your recovery. Remember that the journey of recovery is about you and not anyone else. If the stigma of addiction continues to get in the way, shift your focus on where you are now in your recovery and where you want to be. Having a long-term plan can help plant the seed in your mind that at some point in the future you’ll be sober and free of the struggles of addiction.
- Participate in community events aimed at breaking the stigma of substance use addictions. Frequently, there are community organizations holding events that are working towards breaking down the stigmas of mental illness and substance abuse. Participating in these events can bring the company of those who have already seen past the barrier of a stigma.
These are suggestions to help break through the stigma of addiction, especially if it’s a barrier to treatment. Seeking treatment and finding sobriety are more important than the opinions of others.
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