The Stigma of Addiction

As we enter September, National Recovery Month, we celebrate those who have overcome alcohol and drug abuse. Celebrating those who have lived to tell their tale and aid others in their victories over substance abuse. This is the month for shining a light on mental health and substance abuse disorders and dampening out the stigma surrounding recovery.

From the perspective of an alcohol abuser, recovery means an end to the fun and the beginning of a dull life. Like many substance abusers, alcohol or drugs are used to fuel the abuser’s’ personality and support their contrived way of living. Yet, they are not living at all. They are dependent on the drink or drug. With recovery there comes freedom.

Freedom to make the right choices, live to your fullest potential. Freedom from the guilt and shame that inevitably goes hand in hand with substance abuse. In truth recovery provides quality of life and the ability to enjoy events and friends in their true form. However the road to recovery, to freedom is not an easy path. There is a lot of hard work and self-discovery.

Shockingly, according to the Surgeon General Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, 1 in 7 people in the United States will develop a substance abuse disorder within their lifetime. Where this can truly be witnessed is in Alaska. Nearly a third of all households suffer from alcohol abuse. Yet out of the 60,000 Alaskan adults in need of treatment, only 8,000 of them received state funded treatment. Recovery Alaska is a program determined to revive the community and restore its health.   

As in the Alaska example, substance abuse in not just a personal issue, it affects the community as a whole. Recovery not only is achieved through the individuals want to live sober, but is also achieved through their support, their community.

If there is an addict in your life and they come to you recognizing their problem don’t hesitate to support them. Their want to include you in their start to recovery means they hold you in high regard, and need your support, love, and kindness. Ask them how they are feeling, what you can do to support them, and what steps are they willing to take next in their journey to sobriety.

Through compassion and openness to support the addict, your efforts can lift the stigma surrounding recovery. It can open the door to sobriety by helping the addict seek the right kind of treatment solutions all while knowing they have the love and support of their friend or family member.

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