Addiction is a disease of the brain that can coax anyone who is under the influence of drugs and alcohol to do things that they would not normally do. People with addictions are sometimes criticized and blamed for their addictions, rather than being regarded as ill and in need of medical attention. One of the first steps in dealing with this growing problem is to remove the stigma that comes with having an addiction. Behind every face that is addicted is someone’s daughter, son, mother, or father. While there are many criminals that are addicted to drugs and alcohol, there are many others that do criminal acts that just need help with their addictive behaviors.
Using criminals as the face of addiction is a disservice to the community. With the opioid crisis that has been growing in our own backyards, we should be talking about what others are trying to keep under wraps to, ironically, preserve the dignity of the family or the person with addiction. This is the time to give up saving face and start putting a real face on addiction.
Instead of being drug dealers and low-income families that "represent" what addiction has been for so many years, addiction is not partial to anyone. Gender, race, sexual orientation, age, and status are not contradistinguished when it comes to addiction. Addiction has only two choices: to not start at all or to get help from the anguish that addiction imparts. Once someone gets addicted, they do not have the choice to just stop. Their brains create a mental disorder that tells them that they must get their next fix. This includes our sons and daughters, who have been informed about what drugs and alcohol do to someone.
Changing the stigma by gaining knowledge
The stigma associated with addiction can lead to feelings of guilt and shame, prompting people to hide their addiction and prevent them from receiving treatment.
Addiction is a brain disease that causes people to be unable to stop using alcohol or another addictive substance even though they know that doing so would be bad for them. It is a long-term and progressive disease that affects both the mind and body, not just a lack of willpower. According to medical definitions, addiction is a long-term brain condition that has nothing to do with a person's character.
This is a developing issue, as evidenced by the current opioid and alcohol epidemics in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in approximately 68 percent of the more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths in 2017. In addition, according to the National Institutes of Health, 88,000 Americans died as a result of alcohol-related deaths in 2017. These figures are six times greater than those from 1999, and they continue to grow year after year.
Many people who had never been hooked on anything before using doctor-prescribed painkillers get addicted to these readily available, extremely potent opioid medicines as a result of operations, automobile accidents, or falls. This is where the cycle of addiction and mental disease begins. When a person realizes that their official opioid prescription can no longer be filled, they frequently turn to illegal markets to fuel their newfound addiction. Prescription opioids, heroin, and potent synthetic opioids (such as fentanyl) continue to erode the public's understanding of drug addiction, which appears to be both a blessing and a curse. It's a curse because of the number of fatalities that could have been avoided, but it could also be a blessing if this epidemic finally takes drug addiction to the center of public health policy.
The problem has expanded so far that it now affects the majority of Americans in every suburb of the United States, not simply the stereotypical addict living on the streets. If you aren't personally affected, chances are you know someone who is. It's a problem that can't be ignored any longer. Every day, approximately 140 people in the United States die from an opioid overdose (illicit or prescribed), and roughly 188 people die from alcohol-related causes. It's a problem that has caused a lot of anger and anxiety without getting to the root of the problem.
The face of addiction is much more complex than what the news has made it out to be. Any person that can get their hands on pills, alcohol, illicit drugs, or marijuana can become the face of addiction. At the same time, young kids that live in upper-class neighborhoods are just as susceptible as middle-class teenagers or adults in all stages of their lives. The point is that addiction is prevalent in all of our neighborhoods. Instead of letting people overdose in a covert fashion, we should change the negative stigma associated with addiction to be able to help those in need. Currently, we probably know someone that has a problem with drugs and alcohol. We owe it to them to change the face of addiction to that of a helpful hand.
Addiction Recovery at Solstice Pacific
No one wants to feel undervalued or judged, regardless of the scenario. If you know someone who is struggling with addiction and the stigma that comes with it, you may be able to support them by being sympathetic and nonjudgmental. At Solstice Pacific, we offer treatment alternatives that are specifically suited to each patient's needs. IOP, PHP, individual counseling, family therapy, and many other services are available. To begin your journey with us, we may ask you to fill out this brief assessment and verify your insurance, so that we may learn more about you. Please do not hesitate to contact us via our website or by phone at (949) 200-7929. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.