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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Confronting Stigma: Going Public with Recovery

addiction
Talking about addiction isn’t an easy task. We live in a society that does not always look favorably on behavioral health problems. Even in recovery, people with use disorders still face stigma; members of the general public often view those with substance use issues as being broken souls.

Individuals who have never struggled with drugs and alcohol have a hard time making sense of why others would continue using despite the consequences. The same people wonder about the appeal of using substances in spite of the heartache attached to the practice. Many men and women look down on persons living with addiction.

Those who work a program of recovery are often bombarded by a salvo of questions as to why they no longer drink or drug. One’s addictive history is not anyone else’s business. However, it seems like a few people cannot help but inquire.

Some men and women have no issue talking about why they gave up on drugs and alcohol. Still, many others feel the need to hide the fact they are in recovery. No one (for example) wants to be viewed as being different. Those in recovery are committed to rejoining society; they hope to leave their shame in the past.

The Persistent Stigma of Addiction


Active addiction affects millions of Americans. With assistance, such people can find the path to long-term recovery. Alcohol and substance use disorder treatment helps people break the cycle of addiction, and it introduces them to programs for managing their illness.

12 Step recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are relied on by people around the globe. The word “anonymous” is in the name for a reason; AA was founded in the 1930s. At that time, alcoholics were treated horribly by society. Those affected by addictive disorders were viewed as being morally weak or lacking willpower—even in sobriety.

Today, scientists tell us that addiction is a form of mental illness. No one wakes up and decides they are going to drink and drug until their life is in ruins. Individuals touched by the disease of addiction do not lack moral fiber or a strong constitution. Instead, those affected have a treatable disorder. With assistance, men and women can lead happy and healthy lives.

Despite having a better understanding of the mechanisms of addiction, people still keep their disease to themselves. Stigma persists in the United States to this day. It is unfortunate that society doesn’t view mental health conditions the same way they would diabetes. Both types of illness are not a choice; they are treatable and must be managed in perpetuity.

Everyone Has a Chance at Recovery


Everyone is eligible for recovery, provided that they have support and compassion. In recent years, a significant number of books are available on the subject of addiction. Many others openly write about what they went through with addiction and their progress in recovery.

Autobiographies about use disorders have the power to inspire some to seek help and provide others the strength to no longer keep their sobriety a secret. Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction, a new book by Peter Grinspoon, MD, confronts stigma and discusses the argument for going public with sobriety.

Dr. Grinspoon is in recovery from opioid use disorder and has gone public about his struggles. In an article for the Harvard Health Blog, he points out that “secrets make you sick.” The fact that people in his social network know he is in recovery means they can step in to support him if he begins to struggle again.

Going public also prevents him from having to keep track of what he told each person about why he is sober. While alcohol was not his primary concern, Dr. Grinspoon was required to abstain for five years to get his medical license reinstated. During that time, you can probably imagine how many people asked him why he no longer drinks. The third reason he went public is as follows:

“Finally, I was increasingly intolerant of the blatant discrimination directed at my brothers and sisters in recovery. Contrary to popular wisdom, we are people too. Not only that, but we have a lot to teach the rest of society, knowledge forged out of struggle and remorse (and therapy). Addiction memoirs are crucial windows into the lives of those who have fought and overcome this scourge. I thought that with my memoir Free Refills, I could make a statement against stigma, by confronting head-on the taboo subject of physicians and addiction. I wanted to demonstrate that anyone can get addicted, even (or especially) your well-meaning doctor, and that, provided they have some ability to grow and change, they are afforded the treatment they deserve, and — most importantly —no one gives up on them, everyone has a chance at recovery.”

 

Central Coast Addiction Treatment Center


The Haven at Pismo offers evidence-based, addiction treatment for adults impacted by alcohol or substance use disorder. Please contact our team to learn more about the services and programs we provide. The Haven is the perfect place to renew your best today.