Changing the Game of Shame

Oftentimes, an addiction is not well-hidden. You might be able to keep it a secret for a short time, but eventually, people will start to notice. And, especially if things get really bad, everyone will know about it.

So, once you begin to enter your recovery period, you might find yourself feeling guilty and ashamed.

This is completely normal.

It is no secret that people (drug-free) look down on those who take part in drugs. In fact, some people even report not enrolling in a mental health facility out of fear of all the social stigma that surrounds addiction.

Isn’t that sad?

There is so much social stigma surrounding addiction that rather than focusing on their own mental health, some adults would rather deal with their emotions in silence because they are so afraid of what others will think.

Types of Addiction Stigma

There are two types of stigma that surround addiction:

  1. Labels

    Remember in high school when people would be labeled a “jock” or a “prep” or even a “nerd”? Someone always has a label they place on others that they feel describes them…

    And, when it comes to labeling an addict, it is often done with something that is hurtful and something that isolates them as a drug user – making them feel like less of a person.

    Some of the common labels include “addict” or “junkie”.

  2. Assumptions

    People have a tendency to just assume that what they perceive to be the case is true, rather than having proper reasoning to believe that. They might assume:

    The addiction was the person’s choice, that the person is weak or lacks willpower, or that they had bad parenting.

    While it might not seem obvious, most people who participate in the abuse of drugs and alcohol don’t enjoy it – but it is their life and they have yet to be able to overcome it.

How does this affect those suffering?

This can leave those who are in the midst of an addiction feeling embarrassed, ashamed, guilty, and can even cause depression or anxiety.

Unfortunately, while some people might not think twice about how their actions affect others, if someone is in the midst of an addiction or even recovery, this could worsen their addiction and/or cause a relapse.

How do we change it?

Rather than labeling or assuming things about those who are in the midst of an addiction, we should be offering a helping hand.

We should encourage the enrollment and participation in positive programs that help those who are hurting.

Put yourself in their shoes just for one day and consider what you would want someone to do for you.


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