Overcoming The Perception Of Addiction

In today’s society, there are often stigmas associated with addiction and seeking help in recovery.

When many people picture someone battling substance use disorder (SUD), they may not always see the person from a compassionate space. For example, some may believe those suffering with substance use disorders are untrustworthy, unworthy of love and connection, or have problems controlling impulses. The belief that people with substance abuse problems are weak minded is a rampant perception many have. As a result, people are less inclined to be empathetic to those seeking help. These stigmas can also hinder people from getting the help they need because they feel shame. It’s important for people to understand there is not just one face of addiction.

The disease of addiction affects people of all races, social classes, age groups and genders. In fact, many addicts are functional members of society – they are coworkers, parents, neighbors and friends.

In order to overcome the stigma of addiction and make a positive change in your life, learn how you can rise above these society-imposed stigmas to get the help you deserve.

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What Is A Stigma?

A stigma can be seen as a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart from the rest of society. Stigmas can stir up feelings of shame, blame, hopelessness and reluctance to seek or accept necessary help.

When people in your life become aware of your addiction to drugs or alcohol or willingness to seek help, you may feel judged by the lack of support you experience from loved ones, people you currently use with, or society in general. It’s important to not let these outside pressures keep you from getting the help you need.

Overcoming Stigmas

There are various ways that you can overcome the stigma associated with addiction and treatment and ensure that you are getting the help you need. Some of these include self-awareness, understanding how social attitudes can impact how we see others, and stereotypes that are hurtful. A stigma may be hurtful, but there are many ways you can empower yourself to overcome them.

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Recognize Negative Stigmas Are A Reflection Of Society, Not You

If you’re currently struggling with addiction, you may face backlash from various people in your life. Loved ones may even want to prevent you from going to rehab for fear that others may find out and damage their reputation.

No one should feel afraid of getting treatment because of what people might think.

In order to equip yourself with the right tools you need to be successful in overcoming addiction, create space for positive additions to your life once you are in recovery.

Educate Yourself

By educating yourself on the nature of addiction, you’ll notice that it is a common disease that does not discriminate against any part of one’s identity. When you understand the root of why you became addicted in the first place, you’ll become empowered to make positive changes in your life – despite what others may think.

After working through the cause of your addiction, you’ll be well equipped to face any backlash from your family or members of society about attending a rehabilitation facility.

Create Space For Positive People And Activities In Your Life

Getting sober starts with a game plan that reinforces your commitment to addiction recovery. Your life will become better after rehab if you make an effort to change your lifestyle, redefine your social group, and meet sober friends.

Make an effort to spend your time with positive, healthy people who will become great additions to your life and help guide you through your recovery. And, understand that by clearing your life of negative people and activities, you’re opening up the opportunity for positive people to come into your life.

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Join A Support Group

Joining a support group can be a critical element in recovering from addiction. By surrounding yourself with likeminded people with similar goals, you’re much more likely to stay on track with your own.

Also, you may want to consider finding a sponsor or counselor that can help you positively deal with the stigmas associated with addiction and rehab.

Help Others By Speaking Out

Once you are clean and sober, you have the opportunity to become a source of inspiration for others who are facing similar troubles. Maybe someone is in your shoes and wondering whether or not they should go to rehab for fear of what others might think.

I was a hopeless prostitute junkie dropout. Today I am a Master Of Social Work (MSW) spending my life devoted to helping others, being a mom and experiencing life to the fullest.

- Michelle V., recovering addict

If they hear about your positive experiences with getting clean, they may be given hope that living a clean and sober life is, in fact, possible. And, you’ll gain the confidence to continue in your sobriety and overcome the stigmas associated with recovery.

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Get Help For Your Addiction Today

Society has an idea of what addiction looks like, but there aren’t many people who understand the severity or cause of the disease. By educating yourself and deciding to make a positive change in your life, you can empower yourself and others to become sober and live a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle.

Don’t let the stigma of addiction or attending rehab keep you from living a life without addiction. Contact a treatment provider today to discuss available treatment options.

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Last Edited:


Jeffrey Juergens

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  • Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.

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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional

David Hampton

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  • A survivor of addiction himself, David Hampton is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach (CPRC) and a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC).

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