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There are many stigmas out there that can bring a negative light to many things. A stigma is defined as a mark or trait of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person. They are not always true, and they can be very damaging to some people. Some of these harmful stigmas also affect addiction and substance use disorder (SUD).

While some still believe in these stigmas, there are people out there who are actively working to change them. At West Coast Recovery Centers, we are trying to change those stigmas against addiction and SUD. We work toward building a healthy environment for addiction treatment, free of judgment.  

Having a healthy and safe environment for treatment can help you address the negative barriers that stigmas have caused. At West Coast Recovery Centers, we also help you and your family members/loved ones gain a better understanding of what addiction is. This can benefit your treatment and help you maintain a healthy life with successful long-term sobriety.

What Is the Most Common Stigma Toward Addiction?

One of the biggest and most common stigmas against addiction is that it’s a choice and not a disease. This way of thinking can be incredibly damaging to those who are in treatment or even those seeking treatment. It can cause many different negative behaviors, attitudes, and barriers to treatment. 

This stigma that surrounds addiction and substance use can also be discouraging for some and can even affect family members. Thinking that addiction is a choice is not true though, just as many stigmas are not true. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) describes addiction as a brain disorder that involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control. 

Addiction has also even been compared to other diseases like heart disease. The reasoning for this is that addiction can disrupt the normal, healthy functioning of an organ in the body as well as have serious harmful effects. While studies show that the initial decision to use substances is typically voluntary, continued use can cause a person’s ability to exert self-control to become seriously impaired. 

Although there are studies out there that show addiction is a disease, there are still those who believe in the stigma that it’s a choice. Learning to handle these types of situations is important. Along with how to handle the negative feelings stigmas can cause. So how do you face this when it happens, and what negative effects can this have on your treatment? 

Facing Stigma and How to Address the Negative Behaviors It Causes Toward Treatment

Once you understand what a stigma is and how it can affect your treatment you can then take a look at how it affects you specifically. In some cases, stigmas can cause negative behaviors to occur. These negative behaviors can range from viewing treatment in a bad light and even refusing treatment altogether. These negative behaviors can also be from others.

When it comes to your own negative feelings and behaviors toward addiction, it can be best to express the emotions to someone you trust or even a therapist if you have one. It can also be helpful to keep an open mind and try to look at the facts if you can’t separate your thoughts from your emotions. 

Stigmas can also cause you to have negative behaviors and feelings toward treatment as well. So how do you address the stigmas that affect you? When faced with those who believe that addiction is a choice, always keep in mind where you are mentally and emotionally. In some situations, it’s best to just step away and take a moment to breathe and collect yourself. If you are in a healthy and safe environment, you can also choose to help the other party understand what addiction really is and the science behind it. 

Understanding Addiction as a Disease: How Family Can Help Raise Awareness

Learning how to face the stigma of addiction can be hard, especially on your own. Making sure that your family is on the same page can really help. This can be especially important if your family isn’t aware of what addiction is and only know the stigma that surrounds it. Having a healthy support system that can help raise awareness about addiction and substance use is incredibly beneficial to treatment. Your family can be an advocate for addiction to help bring positive awareness to the disease. 

At West Coast Recovery Centers, we are trying to break down these stigmas and help families understand what you are going through. We offer many traditional and holistic approaches to treatment to help build a healthy environment for you to work through addiction. Understanding the damage that stigmas can cause to addiction treatment is the first step you have to take to avoid the negative behaviors it can cause. We at West Coast Recovery Centers are here to help you with that.

Fighting against stigmas can be challenging when you don’t feel understood. For many people, the stigma that addiction is a choice and not a disease can be damaging to their mental health. In some cases, it can hinder treatment progress when it feels like the world is against you and even family members or loved ones aren’t supportive. There are many people out there who don’t understand that addiction is a disease that many people struggle with. At West Coast Recovery Centers, we aim to break down those stigmas and build a healthy environment for your treatment and recovery journey. If you are seeking help, reach out today at (760) 492-6509.

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