Unfortunately, addiction is the most stigmatised mental health issue. Yet, coincidentally, addiction is also the most diagnosed mental health issue, experienced on a global scale.
The relationship and effects of stigma and addiction have developed for years. Negative perceptions of addicts, of initial causations of addiction, of addiction as a choice have materialised. Through this materialisation, many individuals, both men and women, across generations, across cultures, across geographical areas are struggling to open up about problems with drugs or alcohol. This, in fact, enabling and aggravating addictive side effects.
While further mental health issues have been accepted on an easier level, such as depression or anxiety, addiction is still getting the brunt of unacceptance. Many individuals lack understanding around addiction, many want to disassociate themselves from an addict, many categorise all addicts into a stereotypical addiction box.
This behaviour is unfortunately making addiction recovery that much harder. It is also heightening addiction rates, as many individuals struggle to open up, down to these unnecessary, uneducated views.
It’s time, as a society, as a country, as a world that we prioritise change. By tackling the stigma around addiction, we can increase resources, we can increase awareness around the signs of addiction, and we can help to boost addiction recovery rates. At Ocean Recovery, we are all about addressing and changing the stigma around addiction, while helping those in need. Are you ready to make a change too?
Effects of Stigma and Addiction
Put yourself in an addict’s shoes. Imagine, you’ve turned to alcohol as a relaxing agent after a tough week at work. Those weeks seem to be getting tougher, where alcohol is acting as a relief strategy. Unintentionally, your consumption of alcohol is increasing, on a consistent basis. Unknowingly, you are enabling an addiction.
The above scenario can and does happen very commonly. Understandably, alcohol consumption is accepted greater over illegal substances. Yet, through the normalisation of drug consumption, both are highly reliant, coping strategies.
Now imagine the idea of opening up for support. Would you turn to loved ones, to friends, to your employer even for support with your addiction? Unfortunately, many individuals feel like they cannot take this step, all down to the stigma around addiction.
Stigmatisation can impact addiction in many different ways. It can stop someone reaching out through the early stages of addiction, soon developing into a life-limiting mental health issue. It can enable further drug and alcohol abuse, resulting in physical and psychological health problems. It can motivate the development of mental health side effects, down to internal battles over addiction. And in some sad cases, the stigma around addiction can turn to overdose or to suicide.
This is exactly why tackling the stigma around addiction should be prioritised. Any individual can develop an addiction diagnosis. Even if you believe that, personally, this isn’t probable, addiction isn’t a choice, it isn’t accepted, it isn’t welcomed. It is a natural occurrence which is very difficult to spot and control. While some individuals will experience cognitive weaknesses, heightening the risk of addiction, addictive behaviours can be enabled by any given individual.
Do you want to live in a world where your loved one or friend will be supported for their mental health struggles? Do you want to live in a world where drug and alcohol abuse are destabilised as a coping strategy? Do you want to feel like you can reach out for support, in the event of an addiction? If so, it’s time to tackle the stigma around addiction.
Tackling the Stigma Around Addiction
Addressing and breaking the stigma around addiction is a big ask. There are years of negative perceptions, of misconceptions, of stereotypes around addiction. However, by taking the steps now, to tackling the social stigma around addiction, we will reach a point where addiction levels are reduced, where mental health is stable, where opening up at the earliest stage is normalised.
The best way to remove the stigma is by educating the world. At Ocean Recovery, we feel a duty to increase the awareness of addiction, of underlying causations, of how to support loved ones through these challenging times.
Addiction is a brain illness which can happen to anyone. While drug and alcohol addictions lead the way, a person can become addicted to any given feeling, item or process. Addiction is where a stimulus will fill a gap, will provide escapism, will boost mood or will alleviate stressful moments. That stimulus will be craved, down to the positive reinforcement it provides. Here’s where the body and brain will continue to crave that stimulus, turning its consumption into a habit. Over time, you can see how an addiction can materialise. You can also see how an innocent coping strategy can be blurred, soon turning into an enabler.
This process can happen to anyone, especially those with vulnerabilities. Yet, unfortunately, the stigma around addiction is stopping people from spotting the early signs of addiction, turning it into a chronic brain illness.
Tackling the stigma on addiction should be aimed for across rehab clinics, across health services, across mental health forums, and across the world as a mutual goal. Reaching out for addiction support should be regulated as the next best step.
Looking Beyond the Stigma of Addiction
If you are struggling with addiction, we urge you to look beyond stigmatisation. There are many individuals who are working to break the stigma on addiction, many who devalue those misconceptions, and many who promote speaking out.
Contacting reputable and accredited rehab clinics will be a good starting point if you are struggling to source support on a personal level. It is important to remember that some individuals will believe the stigma of addiction, down to a lack of education. Your best step will be to overlook their judgment and work to better yourself, soon showing them the true diagnosis of addiction.
At Ocean Recovery, we can help you with your rehabilitation, along with supporting your loved ones through this challenging time. We can help them understand your addiction, and how they can also help you through your recovery.
Stigmatisation should be tackled across the board of mental health conditions. Yet, prevalently, it should be diminished when considering addiction. Too many people are suffering down to a lack of education around addiction. Let’s change that by overlooking and tackling the stigma around addiction, changing future outlooks on stereotypes.