The stigma of addiction. Most of us have dealt with addiction in one form or another, and even with the severity of opioid addiction becoming more prevalent in the recent years, we still label addicts as junkies, crackheads, criminals, and fiends just to name a few. What most of us seem to forget is that junkie is someone’s mother, that criminal is someone’s child. We are all human and come in to and leave this world the same way.
I myself am an addict in recovery, and for so long struggled with the stigma around addiction. It made me feel different from everyone else, like I was beneath them. The simplest daily tasks I didn’t want to do, because I felt like anyone who looked at me saw me as a junkie. That all they had to do was take one look at me and could tell. This happened even after having some time in recovery.
My addiction started when I was 17 years old, 6 months after my 18th birthday I had managed to destroy my car, lost my job, got arrested, and while all my friends were preparing for collage I was trying to figure out how to get more drugs. I battled active addiction on and off for 8 years, I struggled with everyone’s perception of me, and as human beings do, I was so worried about what everyone else thought. One day I sat down and really thought about it. Why did I feel this way? Why was I so worried about what everyone thought? You know what the answer was I wasn’t okay with myself. I wasn’t proud of everything I had done in my recovery. I didn’t truly love myself. At this point I realized yes there is always going to be a stigma around addiction, but I am proud of myself, and we as recovering addicts need to change this stigma the powerful, negative perceptions commonly associated with substance abuse and addiction. In doing so we can change thoughts and ideas others may have about addiction. We can show them how powerful, recovery is, and if they just have compassion for the suffering addict, then maybe they won’t feel unwanted, different, embarrassed to ask for the help. I fight every day for another day sober. Let’s drop the stigma and help someone take the first step and get one day.
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