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Reducing the Stigma

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What is stigma? The dictionary states that stigma is an association of disgrace or public disapproval with something, such as an action or condition. Stigma around addiction and mental health can cause individuals to be embarrassed to get the help they need. There is a fear that seeking help will jeopardize their jobs and personal relationships.

 

What is stigma? The dictionary states that stigma is an association of disgrace or public disapproval with something, such as an action or condition. Stigma around addiction and mental health can cause individuals to be embarrassed to get the help they need. There is a fear that seeking help will jeopardize their jobs and personal relationships.

 

So, how do we actively try to stop stigma? There are a few ways to reduce stigma:

 

Education: There are many attitudes about addiction and mental health that are based on misinformation and incomplete information. Many people view a substance use disorder as a character flaw rather than a medical condition. If we can change the perception, there would be a more positive response when you hear that someone may suffer from a substance use disorder or mental illness.

Compassion: By responding in a positive manner, we can help build an individual’s confidence up versus tearing it down. As an individual and as a community, we should offer moral support, listen to the person, and ensure the individual knows that they are important.

Look Beyond the Substance: We often tend to look at the substance use disorder (SUD) or the mental illness. Instead, we need to put our focus on the person. We often get hung up on what the person is doing or misusing and forget that we are all human beings.

Language: Using the wrong words further stigma. When we change the way we speak, we are moving towards a more positive outcome. Poor word choices may be intentional or accidental.

 

What “bad” language versus “good” language looks like:

BAD

GOOD

Addict, Abuser, Junkie

Person with substance use disorder

Addiction

Substance Use Disorder

Alcoholic

Person suffering from alcohol addiction

Clean/Dirty test results

Negative/Positive and Substance-Free

Drug Habit

Regular substance use

Drug Abuser

Person who uses drugs

Habit

Disease or active addiction

Patient

Person receiving treatment

Substance therapy

Medication- Assisted Treatment

User

Person engaged in the use of risky substances

 

Outpatient facilities can provide a support base and setting that allows the patient to receive MAT, therapies and behavioral modifications all under one roof, so patients can live their real lives while changing what is needed for successful recovery
Cassandra Young
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