When struggling with addiction, recovery is a constant process. It can vacillate between great successes and feeling like there’s no one left in your corner. There are many stigmas associated with addiction that can influence the ways in which people react to you during recovery. These stigmas are a difficult part of healing and need to be debunked in order to prevent their potentially harmful effects on those who are actively in recovery.

People Are Not Defined By Their Addiction

Those struggling with addiction and recovery may have difficulty separating themselves from their addiction. This stigma can permeate outwards. Family and friends of those struggling with addiction can also lose sight of the person they knew prior to the effects of substance abuse. This stigma cannot be further from reality. Human beings are not their addictions or the drugs they have become addicted to, just like those suffering from chronic medical conditions are not defined by their sickness. Acknowledging the human behind an illness is the first step in addressing the stigma and the effects that it has on both addicts and their loved ones.

No One is Alone

While substance abuse often alienates people from those they care about, the notion that there is no one to turn to is a stigma that can make the path to recovery even harder. Reaching out to loved ones in moments of doubt can often recreate bonds of trust and allow those that have been hurt by addiction the ability to offer their support.

Inpatient and outpatient treatment centers are a great source of support for those who feel that there is nowhere else to turn.

Sometimes Stigmas Come from Within

Some of the hardest stigmas to overcome when dealing with substance abuse are the ones that are created from within. Once someone has struggled with addiction they may feel that it is necessary to impose guilt on themselves. These stigmas can be the very things that interfere with recovery and prevent those struggling with substance abuse from moving forward. It is important to separate guilt from action and realize that past actions do not dictate future success.

Stigmas Can Prevent Treatment 

Often times, the stigmas surrounding addiction can interfere with getting treatment. Unfortunately, this is can develop into a repeating cycle of abuse. When dealing with addiction, treatment may seem unattainable. Stigmas around entering treatment may influence loved ones and scare them away from the difficult conversations that must take place in order to start the conversation about treatment. In reality, treatment is a key factor in recovery. The path to treatment should be an honest offering of support, devoid of the stigmas that surround addiction.

How Stigmas Slow the Path to Recovery

Once one has come to terms with their addiction and has received treatment, dealing with the stigmas that follow the addiction can be daunting. While your past should not dictate your future, there are certain stigmas that follow addiction through recovery and into everyday life. These can show up in all aspects of life and can often discourage the continued steps required for long-term recovery. Establishing healthy boundaries and ongoing treatment plans can help overcome the stigmas that follow those struggling with substance abuse after treatment.

Why it is Important to Offer Support Instead of Judgement

The stigma of addiction can be more dangerous than addiction itself. People who struggle with addiction also struggle with having the courage to get help. When outsiders choose to believe in the stigmas of addiction instead of offering support to those struggling, the problem can be intensified.

Having confidence from within and the support from those around you can be two of the most important steps to recovery. Substance misuse is often a result of many different factors and cannot be compartmentalized into a list of wrongdoings. Stepping beyond the stigmas that surround addiction can be difficult. However, moving past these stigmas is essential in establishing a reliable path to recovery for everyone involved.