Getting Past the Stigma of Addiction

For so many years, public perception of addiction was that if you abused drugs or alcohol, you were morally a bad person. Addiction and treatment of addiction was a dark family secret, hence why Alcoholics Anonymous is anonymous.

Thanks to research, new treatment techniques and a shift in perception, more and more people are coming to realize that there is no more shame in having an addictive disorder than there is being diagnosed with diabetes. Athletes and celebrities have spoken openly about their challenges with substance abuse – Brett Favre, Josh Hamilton, Andre Agassi and John Daly are a few examples of notable athletes who sought help for their addictions. We all remember the antics of Brittany Spears and Charlie Sheen as they were frequently mentioned in mainstream and tabloid news stories because of their addictions. Jamie Lee Curtis, Drew Barrymore, Elton John also had their challenges with drugs and alcohol. Of course, Robin Williams is probably the first name that comes to mind following his passing. Williams brought that struggle to life in his most recent sitcom, “The Crazy Ones.” Williams played the role of Simon Roberts, an alcoholic in recovery. One written interview quoted Williams as saying, “Simon’s a guy with a lot of nuance. He’s lived hard and been on the edge for a long time. Multiple marriages, rehab, even rehab in wine country. Trust me, I’ve done the research myself.”

Despite this, when addiction happens at home, the most common reaction is shame. Parents ask themselves how they failed to steer their kids from drugs or alcohol, siblings protect each other, not wanting to see the one struggling get in trouble, spouses hold deep dark secrets and will make excuses about absences and unexplainable behaviors.

The greatest danger in this “what if the neighbors find out” mentality is that it can delay the process of intervention and treatment. Those who are diagnosed with cancer may opt for a second opinion, but when the disease is confirmed, they do not delay lifesaving treatment. The approach to seeking treatment for addiction should be the same; confront it head on before more damage can be done.

It does not matter if you chose to keep your own battle private or shout it from the rooftops. The key is seeking help and getting treatment before the disease spirals out of control. Contact Pathways at 855-349-5988 to learn more about how we can help with our 28-day and extended care programs.