In a study done by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), there are over 21 million adults (over the age of 12) in America who have a substance abuse disorder. This survey was done in 2014, and the numbers continue to grow.
With that magnitude of those battling an addiction, it would seem that people would have a more compassionate relationship towards addiction. However, there is a negative stigma around drug dependency and addicts that continues to prevail. People hear the word “addict” and immediately think bad thoughts: they’re homeless, they’re desperate, they’re poor, they lack self control, they’re choosing drugs over a good life. None of these things are true, and it’s time to speak the truth about addicts and their condition.
Facing Negativity and Stigma
For those who have addiction issues, there is already a sense of personal negativity in many cases. Often, addicts face their own self-esteem issues and a low sense of self-worth. A person who is already feeling worthless may be the very type of person who turns to drugs to deal with their emotions.
For instance, someone who experiences negative thoughts or little self-respect can be influenced by the inability to counteract those feelings without turning to avenues that are self-destructive – such as alcohol and drugs. These substances numb them to the point where they don’t think those negative thoughts, and are able to escape the harsh realities of life.
In fact, according to Psychology Today, there are quite a few factors that pose a risk for some people such as psychological factors, social norms, genetic endowment, and family background:
The self-medication theory of addiction suggests that suffering is at the heart of addictive disorders (Khantzian, 2012). That is, individuals with deficits in emotion-regulation skills (i.e., skills relevant for modifying emotional reactions and tolerance for negative emotions) use drugs in an attempt to manage negative or distressing affective states.
Basically, the very problems that may lead to drug addiction are the issues that an addicted person is trying to control in the first place.
This is similar to how someone who seems to have it all is found to be battling a drug problem, and others are shocked. It is not about what you have or who you are. Rather, it’s about the internal emotional issues you’re struggling with. These feelings lie at the core of how a person will react to drug use: whether it’s recreational use, after-surgery prescriptions, or a first-time use. Drugs have no mercy, and addictions can be unpredictable and brought on suddenly.
Not All Addicts Use Recreational Drugs
Those who have had issues with sobriety may have been known for their use of recreational drugs, like cocaine or heroin, and this reputation is forever tied to their identity. Unfortunately, this stigma has not gone away. Additionally, many addicts are thought to be of a certain demographic – uneducated, poor, a lack of self-discipline, or homeless. However, that is far from true.
In recent years, opioid use after surgeries has skyrocketed. According to research on WebMD, the use of prescriptions for opioids such as Vicodin and Oxycontin has quadrupled since 1999. These are not people who fall into the demographics listed above, these are people who often went in for simple surgeries and found themselves addicted afterwards. These are your soccer moms, celebrities, business men, and other people just like you.
A shocking statistic shows that a dependence on opioids can develop in as little as five days. Imagine becoming addicted to something you were prescribed by a doctor – in less than a week. We can’t rule out these facts because they help us understand why addicts can’t be shoved into one descriptive box. Every single situation is different, and sometimes the person truly isn’t to blame for their substance dependence.
Why We Need to Stop Blaming Addicts
Addiction is a disease, not a choice. Go to any social media comment thread and you’ll hear different opinions, but science has shown that it is not as simple as a mere lack of discipline. The American Society of Addiction Medicine and American Medical Association are just two of the numerous medical associations that agree.
A combination of biological factors, environmental factors, and behavioral factors are what causes addiction, just like forms of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Trauma is another factor to consider:
Most people who struggle with addiction have experienced trauma at some point in their lives. During any given year, 8 million adults in the United States will have PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder. Up to 80 percent of women who enroll in substance abuse therapy have endured physical or sexual violence.
Some people are under the impression that those who have an addiction made a choice to use the drug. While that is true on a simple scale, these individuals are not responsible for how their body and brain reacts to the drug. This is why some people never become addicted to the prescription they were given after surgery or after trying a drug once or twice – it all depends on the individual.
The choice that an addict does have is the ability to seek out rehabilitation and recovery.
Recovery is Possible
For those seeking sobriety, there are forms of rehabilitation that are successful. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center offers a wide variety of treatments and programs that can help with recovering from a variety of different disorders.
Services for recovery include a myriad of successful treatments such as holistic approaches, PTSD Therapy, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), and more.
If you know someone who is struggling with addiction, it is crucial that they are not stigmatized, judged, or treated as if they are a person of lower caliber. This is someone who needs compassion and understanding. Blaming addicts only increases the feeling of hopelessness or issues with self-worth. Instead, focus on how treatment is available and sobriety is possible with the right type of rehabilitation. If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction, please reach out and talk to one of our specialists today. Our mission is your recovery.
Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 888-512-1705.
Content for Scottsdale Recovery Center and Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and the food/restaurant industry. Advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best. Cohn.Media