How to Cope with the Stigma of Addiction
Most people don’t realize that there are prices an addict has to pay in their life even after they get sober and stop using the drugs and alcohol. The stigma of being an addict will follow someone with a tainted past for a long time. In fact, stigma is one of the most difficult aspects of addiction because it makes it harder for individuals and families to deal with their problems and get the help they need. Society has imposed the stigma because of the belief that addiction is a character flaw or weakness that can’t be cured or that it is simply a matter of choices by good or bad people. This stigma is deep rooted even in the light of addiction being a treatable yet incurable disease and those who have recovered live wonderful lives.
Here are some ways you can cope with misunderstanding and judgment:
- Communicate your feelings
Communication is very important in order to maintain a positive social support network and break down the social stigma. If you have recently gone to drug and alcohol treatment or dealt with addiction you may start to find that people in your social circles are treating you differently. Your friends, family members, or coworkers may see you as fragile or may avoid you altogether. Don’t let this upset you because chances are they just don’t know how to communicate with you and are worried they may upset you and don’t have the knowledge about your addiction to be comfortable. Talk with your family and friends and help to educate them so they have a better understanding of your addiction and what you are going through. Make sure to do this in ways you are comfortable with.
- Recognize the time and place
It is definitely important to discuss your addiction with people close to you but it is also important to only speak about it in areas where you are comfortable and where others will be comfortable talking about it. It is important to remember that in some circumstances it is best to keep the information about your addiction to yourself-not because you are ashamed for it because it will be better for your well-being. Some people just won’t understand.
- Acknowledge your own potential
This is a great way to cope with the stigma of being an addict. Your potential is only as limited as you perceive it to be. Having an addiction does not have to keep you from doing absolutely anything you want to do with your life. The world has tons to offer you and you have tons to offer the world. The stigma of being an addict does not change this and cannot remain in the face of what you want to do. Don’t allow the being an addict to shape you or how you feel about yourself and definitely don’t let sell yourself short because of your addiction. You are a good person who has a disease.
- Use stress reduction techniques
A lot of the times, coming in contact with someone who still holds on to the stigma of what addicts are and who they are can be stressful for you. Using stress-reduction techniques can help combat some of anxiety that can come up when you are dealing with less than understanding individuals. These stress-reduction techniques, such as breathing, meditating, prayer, etc. can help you to stay focused and cope with the stigma of being an addict.
5. Be patient with yourself
Learning how to cope with the stigma is something that comes with time. Slowly, but surely; it will get easier and eventually you will feel as if you aren’t dealing with any kind of stigma at all. Those who believe in the stigma against addicts are merely people who just don’t have the knowledge about addiction or the understanding–so you just keep doing what you are doing and the rest of the world can keep their thoughts to themselves and maybe, just maybe they will catch up.