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It’s Called Addiction: Let’s Break the Stigma

What are the first three words that come to mind when you think of addiction?

Photo by: Fernando Brasil

You may be thinking: deadbeat, hopeless, and neglectful.

Let me tell you the three words that come to my mind: strength, reliance, and mother.

I’m the daughter of an alcoholic, and that’s not something I’m ashamed of. When people find out my mom is a recovering addict, they look at me like they’ve seen a ghost. It greatly pisses me off!

It’s time to stop acting like addiction is a taboo subject that we can’t talk about.

Addiction is a disease, and it should be treated like one

Would you make offensive or hurtful remarks about someone who had cancer? No, you wouldn’t. So why make asshole comments about addicts?

Addiction isn’t some mythical illness. It’s a chronic disease in the brain that alters your body's responses. The American Society of Addiction Medicine stated that, “Addiction changes the way the brain works, rewiring its structure. Drugs and alcohol hack into your brain's communication system and interfere with how nerve cells send, receive and process information”.

Stop looking down on someone for something they can’t control.

The same way someone who’s sick goes to the doctor for treatment, an addict does too! Those in recovery can meet regularly with support groups, counselors, and treatment centers to receive the support they need to achieve sobriety. This type of action should be celebrated, but it’s not! Addiction is a battle fought every single day. Addicts in recovery have to actively make a choice to stay sober. But this is difficult to do in a world so unaccepting of those not living a “cookie-cutter” life.

Addicts are as human as the rest of us

Addiction doesn’t care about who you are. It doesn't care about race or gender. It doesn’t care about socioeconomic status. When addiction grabs you, it holds on for dear life.

We never know the issues people are battling, and when it comes to mental health, there are many who’re forced to suffer in silence.

While you might not realize it, so many people you know may be fighting addiction. And guess what? Most of them are everyday people like you and me.

Because my mother is an addict, I'm more sensitive to what may go on behind the face people show us. Growing up hearing people say things like, “Wow I’m such an alcoholic,” or, “They’ll never be anything more than an addict.” It’s insensitive as fuck, because it uses the word addict in a negative connotation.

When you refer to yourself as an alcoholic, especially when you’re exaggerating, it devalues the daily struggle addicts face. And It’s not that “They’ll never be more than an addict,” that person is battling addiction. This alternative line of thinking is far more considerate and doesn't further this toxic stigma.

Yes, an addict will always have addictive tendencies. But THEY ARE HUMAN.

We need to create more spaces of acceptance

When in recovery, one of the first things an addict learns is that to fix a problem they have to accept it.

When my mom first went into recovery, she hid it from everyone, including me. This secrecy is a normal occurrence when addicts enter recovery.

The world we live in has such a negative view on addiction that many addicts choose to hide their progress.

This needs to change.

As a society, we need to normalize conversations about substance abuse and sobriety. Opening a conversation about these topics allows us to have a glimpse into the lives of others. Some people have never known an addict. In situations like these, it is easy to make judgments based on the little information we have. Educating ourselves is the best way we can understand how much goes into these battles. Only then can we change the world’s outlook on addiction.

Together we can break the stigma around addiction. We need to be more open-minded about and accepting of the battles people face. Have an open conversation! I can't tell you how many people’s lives my mom’s story has touched.

Just because someone is an addict does not mean they are worth any less than you.

~trust the good vibes and spread all the love

This is a poem I wrote for my mom. I hope it can give you light or peace.-Soph


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