How the Negative Drug Addiction Stigma Worsens EverythingOctober 19, 2016 - Addiction, Drug - 0 Comments
The stigma of drug addiction is deadly, and sub-acute rehabilitation providers are studying its prolonged impact upon struggling individuals. The American Society of Addiction Medicine considers addiction to be a chronic disease of brain reward, which impacts memory, motivation, and related circuitry. Similarly, the National Institute on Drug Abuse defines drug addiction as a chronic, relapsing brain disease.
A Negative Stigma Reduces Treatment Possibilities
Unfortunately, the negative stigma surrounding drug addiction may be impacting the medical world at a critical level. While drug addiction impacts a significant segment of the world’s population, the medical community still lacks an ironclad reception to the affliction. Doctors may be slow in recognizing addiction as treatable due to the banter surrounding different “layers” of addiction. For this reason, patients have sought assistance outside of the medical community—placing themselves in danger.
A Negative Stigma May Mismanage a Patient
Even if a drug-addicted individual manages to acquire medical assistance, they may be misdiagnosed or face a wrong treatment schedule. Because doctors may be slow in recognizing acute addiction problems, patients are sometimes directed into avenues destined to fail. Recommended solutions may prove to be ineffective, and a patient’s reluctance to return to their medical provider can be deadly. While the medical community strives to enhance its understanding of addictive behavior, it still suffers from this paradigm.
“Addicts” are Sent to Jail
Individuals possessing a mere parcel of their addiction are frequently sent to jail. While drug possession does constitute a broken law, the continuously negative stigma of addiction has made it difficult to direct drug addicted individuals into care, not containment. Much of the government’s money spent on drug control, for this reason, is funneled into criminal justice interdiction instead of prevention and treatment funding.
Unfortunately, an increasingly stigmatized stance on substance misuse will only heighten this problem. It’s important to support the justice system, but it’s similarly important to remove the stigma when considering adequate care for drug-addicted individuals. Treatment and prevention are fundamental tools to curing drug addiction, and they shouldn’t be sacrificed to promote a culture of incarceration.
Stigmatizing Family Members Can Make Addiction Worse
Today, 94 to 99 percent of United States adults disapprove of an individual taking heroin even once. A similar statistic surrounds the use of marijuana and cocaine. While, again, disapproval is entirely important to combating drug addiction, it’s important to refrain from ostracizing struggling users.
Research suggests that such discrimination, when present in a family environment, can actually worsen drug addiction. Heavy drug abusers are already at odds with a significant part of society, and their ability to depend upon a close friend or family member is vital to their recover—even survival. While enforcing “tough love” may, indeed, be a positive avenue for reinforcement, placing a stigma upon a loved one can increase the risk of use. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to pin down this stigma in the household, where family members alone are at odds.
At the end of the day, the initial stigmatizing of drugs can prevent use. It does, however, reduce the chance of recovery. Sub-acute rehab treatment options, for this reason, propose a positive environment free of discrimination. It’s important, today, to avoid classifying struggling individuals as “junkies.” By reducing the stigma, and by replacing negative attitudes with proactive methods of recovery, we can assist individuals one step at a time.
Drug addiction carries a highly negative stigma, and experts believe this discrimination may actually increase use. Find out what sub-acute treatment experts are saying, and find out why the nation’s approach to drug use needs a new approach.
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