In case those affected can’t feel it every day, it’s been confirmed that stigma is present in all areas of addiction recovery. A study from Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital found that many adults in recovery from drugs and alcohol still experienced both “micro” and “macro” forms of discrimination as they navigate their life after treatment. The study surveyed over 2,000 respondents and found:
- 50% Said Others Assumed They Would Relapse
- 38% Said They Felt Like They were Being Held to a Higher Standard than Others
- 18% Said They Felt Like they Had Been Treated Unfairly by the Police
- 16% Said They Were Denied Employment
- 7% Said They Were Denied the Right to Vote
- 15% Said It was Hard for Them to Get Medical Insurance
- 11% Said Insurance Would Not Cover Some of Their Medical Costs
- 9% Said They Were Denied Housing
Stigma also plays a large role in the decision to enter addiction recovery in the first place. It’s part of the reason why only a fraction of the people who need alcohol and drug treatment actually end up getting it.
How Can Stigma Jeopardize Addiction Recovery?
Anyone in recovery understands the role that stigma can play in the process. The shame and judgement from loved ones derails confidence and self-worth.
Discrimination in the workplace makes it harder to get and keep a job. Embedded toxic perception stops people from getting proper medical care that makes it possible to maintain sobriety.
This problem goes well beyond hurt feelings, and represents a long-standing view of addiction as a moral failing rather than a medical condition.
Here’s a reality check…addition is everyone’s problem. It affects 21 million Americans, and between drugs and alcohol, kills over 150,000 each year. The opioid epidemic has universalized addiction, and made it a leading American public health issue. There is simply no room for judgment, scorn or ridicule when interacting with people struggling with substance use disorder, and we can’t expect the problem to get better if we treat victims like they are worthless.
Recovery Unplugged is acutely aware of the role that shame and stigma plays in addiction recovery, and we strive to help our clients rediscover their strength and confidence. If you or someone you care about are struggling with addiction, don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for the help you need to heal.