The stigma of addiction can be very damaging. In 1966, the American Medical Association classified alcohol abuse as a disease. Eight years later, the same was done for drug abuse. However, many people still consider addiction a matter of “willpower” or a moral failing. When you say “drug addict” to the average person, they immediately conjure images of a homeless man, living under a bridge, sticking needles in his arm.
The stigma of addiction has been around for a long time. Alcoholics and drug addicts are usually scorned by their communities, and celebrities with addictions are often exploited by the media. Even though the government considers addiction a disease, efforts like the “War on Drugs” brand addicts as criminals. Even within the recovery community there is a tendency to, sometimes unconsciously, play into those stereotypes. People in the rooms of AA or NA will refer to themselves as “junkies,” and we call a positive urinalysis “dirty.”
This stigma of addiction prevents many addicts from seeking treatment, and causes them and their families to be too ashamed to ask for help. The stress of hiding can often cause other medical situations for the addicts and their families.
How to deal with the stigma of addiction: Communicate
One of the ways to deal with the stigma of addiction is to communicate with close friends and family about the nature of your condition. Some people, even within your own family, may avoid talking to you or spending time with you simply because they don’t want to do or say anything that may upset you. Their knowledge about the disease may be limited. It is important to talk to friends and family so they have a better understanding of your illness.
How to deal with the stigma of addiction: Know the time and place
While you should not be ashamed of your addiction, it is important to recognize when to talk about it and when it is better to keep it to yourself. Many times, people who you come into contact with do not understand addiction, and they may not be prepared or educated well enough to discuss these illness in a productive manner.
How to deal with the stigma of addiction: Demand equal medical insurance coverage for alcohol and drug treatment
Almost all private or public health insurance policies still provide no or unequal coverage for alcohol and drug treatment. Most states (43 of them) have laws that require plans to cover a stay at an addiction treatment center. Because of the stigma associated with addiction, you may have to be prepared to challenge your health insurance carrier if they deny coverage. Some states find it difficult to enforce the laws regarding treatment centers because of this stigma of addiction. Keep in mind that group health insurance is required to comply with state law, but financially, it is beneficial to them to deny coverage. Research your state laws before you contact your health insurance carrier and don’t take no for an answer.
If you or a loved one are in need of luxury drug and alcohol rehab please give our addiction specialist a call 24/7 at 800-845-6827.