Stigma around Substance Abuse Disorders

I don’t expect people to understand why people allow themselves to become addicted and to let substance abuse ruin their lives and hurt others. It is often the case that people with substance abuse disorders themselves don’t understand either. I do however expect that if one doesn’t understand then they dare not judge or blame individuals for their choices. It is obvious to me that people who are inclined to get beaten down by addiction definitely didn’t intend to cause harm but rather got caught up in a terrible affliction that happens to many many people. I hated myself for a long time for choices I made which was a choice in and of itself and a contributing factor in the perpetuation of my problems. It’s a vicious cycle that starts in early childhood and I hope one day to be able to educate others about the insanity that comes along with addiction and help to find preventive solutions. I’m still learning and working on my own recovery and I look forward to the day I am strong enough and skilled enough to be on the other side of this epidemic. I have lots of ideas and many years experience in and out of the cycles of addiction and recovery and have been exposed to various methods of treatment and I am excited to share my ideas. One problem I think that needs to be addressed is the stigma surrounding the people who use and the exclusion and often times punishment and rejection of suffering users. The treatment industry has come a long way in twenty five years as far as seeing many more youth programs and young people in recovery but I believe there is a huge problem in the way society views and treats drug users. In my opinion it’s a family and health issue not a criminal one. Getting to the root cause of addiction is key rather than trying to address the problem when a person “hits rock bottom” Twelve step programs are outdated and in my opinion possibly detrimental to a person in recovery. These types of recovery models can be misleading. I was conditioned by certain teachings in the “Big Book” at the age of eighteen when I was extremely suggestable into believing things that were questionable when perceived literally. The program has been in place for over one hundred years and I’d really like to know why it is still being practiced. Well I can guess why. People are not stepping up to find better more effective cures which in my opinion right there is a huge flaw in AA. They say there is no known cure but it can be arrested at some point. Curing addiction is my only option. It can be interpreted as a chronic progressive condition which I don’t believe it is. I won’t consider myself an addict for the rest of my life and I certainly won’t introduce myself as an addict long after I am not addicted. It’s demeaning to say that I am an addict because it’s attaching a label to my identity. I prefer to say I have a substance abuse disorder. I don’t want to sound like I am bashing a program that has helped many people to address their addiction issues. I know people who seek help there and it works for them I just believe that it’s not effective for everyone and they should stop promoting it as if it’s the only way to recover. For anyone reading this who knows someone who is struggling with an addiction you have my sympathies and please don’t give up on your loved one. Educate yourself, have compassion and offer non-enabling support. Understand that there’s probably not much you can say or do until the person themselves makes the decision to quit and that is when they will need you the most. My family was supportive when I was in early recovery and it made a huge impact on my level of motivation. I isolated when I was in my addiction and I felt like no one cares and no one is there anymore but when I started making steps to change I had the support of people around me. Please approach this subject with sympathy and gentle, loving, kindness rather than judgment and condemnation because we are mostly people dealing with trauma and pain in which we sought to cope with by escaping with drugs and alcohol. Usually exposed to at a young age, people who find relief in drugs are not derelicts, criminals and abusive partners to start off. The addiction takes over at a certain point and I admire people who make efforts to turn their lives around. Everyone I know who is in recovery is taking accountability for their actions now and redirecting their priorities and beginning a healing process that is extremely difficult. Patience, love and compassion‚Ķ..please

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