Despite increased research and understanding of addiction, there are still many stigmas that exist. Some people still believe that addiction is the result of weakness or a lack of willpower, or that it mainly affects those who are uneducated or unemployed. However, addiction does not discriminate; it affects all genders, races, nationalities, and socioeconomic classes. Even if you are not personally struggling with addiction, you can be a part of breaking down these stigmas.
Educate yourself. The first step in breaking the stigma is ensuring that you are educated on the truth about addiction. If there is something you believe or are unsure about, do some fact checking. By arming yourself with this knowledge, you can share it with others and keep yourself from increasing the spread of false information.
Educate others. Once you are well informed about addiction, educate others. Make sure your family and children have the correct information. Work together to change how you talk about addiction by not using words such as ‘alcoholic,’ ‘addict,’ ‘junkie,’ and ‘clean/dirty.’
Be Supportive. If a family member, friend, or coworker is struggling with addiction, be supportive of their recovery. Ask how you can help and have confidence in their ability to change for the better. Stand up for them to others and fight for their rights. Do what you can to create a safer environment that is conducive to their recovery.
Speak Up. Share your story, and if you hear someone who is misinformed about addiction, politely correct them. Take part in community events geared toward awareness, prevention, and education. You could be a volunteer or speaker at schools or rallies. Sign petitions and write letters to representatives to push for legislation that provides support and fights back against addiction.
There are many ways that you can be an active part of breaking the stigma of addiction and raising awareness. If you are battling addiction, seek treatment at an inpatient rehab center and show yourself and others that recovery and change are possible.
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