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overcome the stigma of addiction

How to Overcome the Stigma of Addiction

It’s common to encounter hurdles on the road to recovery. One of these is shame, as our society puts a tremendous stigma on addicts. Though you may wish you could change the past, dwelling on your mistakes will only prevent you from moving forward. Addiction does not define you. The sooner you accept that you are not to blame for having a treatable disease, the better off you’ll be. Here are some ways to overcome the stigma of addiction.

1. Admit When You Need Help

You might have once believed you could stop drinking or using drugs anytime you wanted. However, the reality is that once addiction has you in its grasp, you can’t walk away from drugs or alcohol on your own. These substances have altered your brain chemistry in such a way that you need support from accredited addiction professionals to begin healing the damage done to your mind and body.

2. Educate Others

One of the best ways to overcome the stigma of addiction is to speak up and be honest about the challenges you’re going through. Recovery is not an effortless process. If it seems like those around you are judging or belittling you for your struggles with substance use, take advantage of the opportunity to teach them that these problems can happen to anyone. Encourage them to learn about how addiction affects physical and mental well-being. The more you can advocate for yourself, the more people will realize how much courage the recovery process takes.

3. Shift the Focus of the Conversation

Though we’ve made some progress in changing how we think about addiction, we still have a way to go. The shame surrounding addiction stems from the misguided idea that addicts are people who lack willpower or character. The reality is that nobody is perfect, and most people who develop substance misuse disorders are as flawed as any other human. And, since the science tells us addiction is a chronic disease, ask yourself if you’d be embarrassed to talk openly about being a diabetic or having cancer. Of course you wouldn’t. You’d expect people to react compassionately, with your best interests at heart. Changing the lens through which we view the issue is how we can overcome the stigma of addiction together.

4. Hone Your Healthy Coping Skills

Facing other people’s judgment can be exhausting. You might have days where you feel as if the world is against you. When you experience these tough moments, you’ll need to have a way to handle them gracefully. Coping skills might entail:

  • Having a sympathetic person to listen to your concerns when your emotions start to feel overwhelming
  • Finding an outlet for stress, such as journaling, meditation, exercise, yoga or painting
  • Developing an “exit strategy” for quickly removing yourself from tense or upsetting situations
  • Learning to recognize and avoid your relapse triggers
  • Going to individual or group therapy to openly discuss your challenges

Hope Lies Ahead

You have no control over the opinions of those around you, but you are in control of your future and your success in recovery. Don’t allow the stigma of addiction to define you. Take steps to get your life back on the right track by connecting with us at Vista Taos Renewal Center.

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COVID-19 update: The health and safety of our clients at Vista Taos Renewal Center is our first priority. We are working closely with the New Mexico Department of Health to ensure that each person admitting to our program is tested for Covid-19 on site and subsequently restricted to a smaller area of campus until the results are returned by the DOH.
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