The Stigma of Addiction
Old-think dies hard. Stigma surrounding addiction is a very real lingering cultural artifact and the unfortunate holdover of old ideas. This comes from many grave misunderstandings about alcoholism and other substance use disorders, or dare we simply say ignorance.
Roc & Doc talk more about that in this episode.
“At its core, addiction isn’t just a social problem or a moral problem or a criminal problem. It’s a brain problem whose behaviors manifest in all these other areas. The disease is about brains, not drugs. It’s about underlying neurology, not outward actions,” says Dr. Michael Miller, former president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
Substance use disorders cannot simply be reduced to moral failings or character weaknesses. To make judgments on the moral character of an addict or alcoholic is either an underestimation of the power of substances or an overestimation of the moral superiority of the one who makes such judgments.
We should honestly ask ourselves: Is there ever any redemptive value in stigmatizing addiction? Our conclusion is that it offers no value for society and certainly none for individuals.
A note to people in recovery: You are not your disease. Yes, it’s part of your story but it’s not how the story has to end. Transcending any label or caricature requires us to treat the disease, secure remission, and enjoy recovery. You have the capacity to go further in life than you ever thought possible. Your life in recovery should be an amazing journey of discovery, achievement, purpose, and meaning.
Fortunately, we are beginning to see attitudes shift away from stigmatization. But there is still much to be done. Old-think dies hard and we advocates-for-recovery have a lot of work cut out for us!