What is Stigma?




  1. a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person

When an individual struggles with an addiction to an illegal substance, they are usually viewed as bad people, people who do not deserve to breathe our air or continue living. I was actually asked once why people with opioid use disorder don’t just die.

Individuals who struggle with an addiction to an illegal substance can be viewed as someone who is simply trading one addiction for another when they seek out treatment.

I can honestly say I have never met any individual with an addiction who told me they woke up one day and decided to throw everything away so they could get high. I have never met an individual with an addiction who said they woke up one day and decided they wanted to be homeless, or that they wanted to ruin all of their relationships with friends and family.

Stigma prevents individuals with addiction from seeking out life saving treatment. Individuals with opioid use disorder for example, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can be life saving, but stigma surrounding MAT actuallys hinders access to treatment and the expansion of such services.

I offer you this as food for thought: if you needed treatment for heart failure, but heart failure and the treatment were looked down upon, would you seek out the treatment? Maybe you would or maybe you wouldn’t, but the biggest piece is that you will never have to make that decision as heart failure is not an ailment that is shamed or stigmatized.

Unless you are someone’s close family member or friend, I would ask you to pause and consider that you do not know every circumstance that has led an individual down a certain path.

Let’s all work together to educate one another and help to #endstigma



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