As a Receptionist, I notice others just passing by our clinic with confused facial expressions, as if our patients are from another planet. Addicts are looked down upon in every aspect there is. No wonder there is stigma in treatment! One of our patient was on her way in and was shamed just for the clothes she wore and she was very well dressed, might I add. It is very unfortunate of the illness that our patients have to deal with let alone someone having negative emotions towards them because of their appearance. You never know what that person may have experienced to put them in the position that they are in at the moment. Instead of judging, how about helping. The smallest gesture is much appreciated and could have a big affect on their lives. The fact that they are seeking treatment to better themselves goes unnoticed. We all have our “illnesses” that need fixing. There is no reason that these people who are just as “normal” as we are should be shamed upon for their addiction. They should feel welcomed. I feel the most important thing when in treatment is that they have a good support system. Although, you have to be straight and forward about their condition sometimes, they still need someone behind them to pat them on the back to inform them that they are OK and to remind them to take it “one day at a time”.
I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. It is true there is so much Stigma out there. It is such a shame that people seeking treatment are looked down like you describe. These people suffering silently like that could be my kids or your kids. I personally have so much admiration for people willing to get treatment and still going to treatment after being treated that bad. Fortunately, there are good people and good facilities making a difference in the patient’s daily misery.
All my praise to the patients wanting to fight the disease. We love you all. And please, People, don’t judge others, and open you mind !
I couldn’t say it any better, thank you LParks88 for sharing your Frustration of how our today’s community behaves in a very mercurial manner to things that affect us all, and our families too. In most cases, people who do this have similar and larger problems too and by scorning others, it makes them feel better. Those who are better, know better to treat those seeking honorable solutions to their challenges with deserved dignity.
The Journey to wellness is normally a tough one (and that goes for any journey to success). We may not have the power to immediately change people’s hippocratic judgments, but we can reassure all patients that seeking for help despite the challenges along the way is the best thing to do, and as long as they keep at it, they should know that those who laugh first never prevail to the end. Keep working on yourself, and you will laugh last.
We love, and respect your commitment to get better, its people like you that this nation deserves to have. You know what you want, never be drawn back by fear or stigma!
I fully concur with your assessment @LParks88. When one of our family members (child or relative) suffers from addiction problems, we’ll be willing to do whatever it takes to get them help. And no one would treat them with contempt, but its sad to see people promoting the cycle of fear by re-enforcing stigma upon those who have decided to receive treatment. It’s sad!
If you are getting treatment for your addiction problem, then you know what’s better for your life, please don’t get discouraged by those who don’t get it. We are with you all the way!!
Sure, it must be. LParks88, you have a rare opportunity to build hope in these people you meet almost every day. When they (an addicted person) faces a lot of negative expressions and start to think its normal for everyone to treat them with contempt, it becomes the order of the day, but when one person walks up to them, with confidence and grave assurance, and with a simple word of courage and empowerment, that alone can undo thousands of negative thoughts. Be their pillar of courage and forward going. They’ll be stronger and more focused onto their treatment. You may just save a life in the process!
I wish you all the luck LParks88.
Too sad! But as Pauline concluded, change begins with one person, each one of us can support these people while they reach out for treatment and perhaps if we can impact the numbers of those receiving treatment, we can as well impact how the community view the whole process of rehabilitation and reduce stigma all together.
As an employee at a methadone clinic, I concur with Lparks88 about her statement about stigma. Stigma stops people from getting help. Stigma is a major cause of discrimination and exclusion and it contributes to the abuse of human rights according to The WHO organization. Even in the medical field stigma is seen. In a study of nurses’ attitudes towards patients, the majority of nurses held negative views about people who used drugs. (Howard and Chung 2000) No one wants to walk around with labels such as addict, junkie, crack head or loser. As I have read all of the posting on this site everyone has discussed the person of addiction as an “addict” and I hate to admit even as a clinician I too have used such stigmatized language. When I first started working in methadone clinics nearly 8 years ago, drug screen results were termed as clean or dirty. Through education on stigma, I now use the terms negative or positive results. In what other context besides addiction do we discuss someone’s lab results as such?
Stigma runs deep in our culture. In an article written in the addiction treatment forum, the US Surgeon “calls for a “cultural shift” in how Americans talk about opioid addiction saying that sigma is one reason why only 1 in 4 people get treatment.” The addicted person is thought of as someone with moral failings or character flaws, instead of someone with a chronic disease. Most of my patients identify and internalize themselves as an addict or junkie which leads to low self-esteem and self-worth.
The connotation of the word addict brings to mind media and movie pictures of the “addict” as being homeless, dirty and living in deplorable conditions such as the gutter. I believe the message/image that continues to get missed is that the people who are addicted and dying due to overdose are someone’s son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father, uncle and aunt. These are the faces of addiction and that all lives matter. No one I have ever met has said “when I grow up I want to become an addict”
Our clinic provides lifesaving medication and yet the name methadone caries much stigma. It saddens me that the name of a medication such as methadone holds so much stigma and stops people from getting the help they need or by leaving treatment prematurely. Family members will ask their loved ones, “When are you getting off of that stuff?” When in fact the medication that is saving their life and has helped the person get back up on their feet, back into the work force, repairing relationships, and paying back past debts. People are afraid of what they do not understand and that is why education is so important. We as a society can say “This does not pertain to me”, but as we are seeing at some point in time, whether it is a co-worker, relative, or a next door neighbor they will eventually be touched by the epidemic of addiction.
~ Lisa M.
Thank you for this detailed insight on our current predicament pertaining stigma in the society. I pray that everyone (this site members inclusive), pick something and start to breakdown the walls of stigma starting with the labels with which we use about people seeking treatment. Thank you and welcome to this forum, we are honored to have people like you here!