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Crush the Stigma of Addiction

The Stigma of Addiction

Because It’s a Normal Part of Life

Learn How Addiction Is a Common Human Condition. But Connecting to Your Spirituality Can Help With Addiction Recovery.

Addiction comes with a negative undertone that often carries stigmatization and judgment. Stigma is a negative social label that can lead to harmful discrimination. The stigma of addiction can cause:

  • Social isolation
  • Unnecessary shame
  • Paralyzing guilt
  • Fear of seeking help
  • And other negative consequences 

But what if I told you addiction is a normal part of human life? 

Recognizing the unnecessary stigma of addiction and embracing your spirituality can help.  

What Is Addiction?

When you think of addiction, you might conjure up an image of a shabby person you’d see on the streets. And most of us think of addiction as something that only happens to other people. 

This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

People from all walks of life have the potential to develop an addiction. It’s a normal part of being human. This is due to our brains being wired for pleasure, making us susceptible to addictive behaviors. And addiction isn’t always about using drugs or alcohol. It can also involve: 

  • Shopping
  • Work
  • Gambling
  • Sex
  • Addiction to food
  • And many others

Addiction Is a Disease

Contrary to popular belief, addiction is not a choice. It’s a disease that alters the way our brains work. When we’re addicted, we can’t control our substance use or behavior, no matter how much we want to. Addiction actually causes surges of dopamine in the brain, further causing reinforcement of pleasurable but destructive habits1

This is what’s responsible for people repeating the behavior.

Addiction is often described as someone who compulsively engages in a particular behavior, even when it harms them or the ones they love. But why would anyone engage in behavior that harms them? One reason is our need to bond with others. 

When we don’t have healthy relationships, we can turn to unhealthy habits to fill the void. 

Addiction Can Affect Our Loved Ones

stigma of addiction

Addiction impacts the ones close to us as well. Not only is it difficult watching a loved one struggle with addiction, but sometimes we assume that an addicted person will change simply because they care about us and we care about them. An example of this is a client of mine named Carol, who’s been struggling with her marriage. 

One day she came to me and said, “I know this sounds like an obvious epiphany. But I’ve realized when you’re married to someone who drinks a lot, you’re not really in a fully present working relationship.” I see this all too often. Like many others, Carol hoped that once they were married, her partner would settle down and stop his never-ending partying. This assumption is often a false one that many of us can make. 

Resources For Addiction Recovery 

Not only can addiction cloud your judgment, but it can also change the fiber of who you are. This is why someone who struggles with an addiction might say things like, “I know I’m not myself when I drink.” Other times people don’t realize they have a problem. Their addictive behavior can become a normalized, regular part of their life. 

Here are some resources that may help you or a loved one overcome addiction: 

  1. Smart Recovery. Smart Recovery can help with any type of addiction. It’s based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps you identify and change negative thinking patterns. Considered to be an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs, Smart Recovery emphasizes self-empowerment and encourages members to take responsibility for their recovery.  
  1. Couples-based counseling. If you’re in a relationship with addiction present, I recommend choosing a therapist that feels supportive and safe for you and your partner. Something to consider: Try to find a therapist that’s familiar with The Gottman Method. Based on the work of Drs. John and Julie Gottman, they’ve spent decades studying what makes relationships succeed or fail. The Gottman Method is a research-based approach to couple’s therapy that’s effective in helping couples build strong, happy relationships. 
  1. Individual therapy. Both partners should pursue individual therapy and support. Each should work on their self-worth and value and deepen their connection to a higher power.

Next, let’s look at the root cause of addiction, according to Dr. Gabor Maté. He’s a best-selling author and world-renowned addiction expert. 

The Cause of Addiction 

Instead of your genes, Dr. Maté believes addiction originates from early childhood environments2. These environments often include events that caused emotional loss and trauma. Based on his work, Dr. Maté’s aspect of addiction can help us break the stigma of addiction with compassion. 

Compassion helps us see people with addiction as complex human beings rather than addicts or junkies.

What Is the Stigma of Addiction’s Negative Impact? 

Here are 5 ways the stigma of addiction can affect you. 

  1. Difficulty Accessing Treatment: The stigma of addiction can make it more difficult for you to get help because you’re worried others will judge you. 
  1. Increased Risk of Overdose: The stigma of addiction can lead you (or someone you know) to hide your substance use. This can put you at risk of overdose because you don’t have support to access resources that can help. It can also make it more difficult for you to get the help you need if you overdose. 
  1. Self-stigma: If you’re struggling with addiction you may internalize the stigma and view yourself in a negative light. This can lead to shame, guilt, and a decreased sense of self-worth. This can lead to an increase in substance use or addictive behaviors. 
  1. Social Isolation: Addiction can make you feel like you don’t fit in with your peers or family members leading you to withdraw from social situations. This can cause loneliness and depression. 
  1. Impact on Employment: Addiction can make it difficult to find or keep a job. This can increase financial instability leading to anxiety, depression, and negative thinking.  

Recognizing Your Addiction Patterns

If you think you may be addicted to something, ask yourself:

  • Do I spend a significant amount of time thinking about the thing(s) I’m addicted to?
  • Do I keep doing it even though it’s causing problems in my life?
  • Do I need more to get the same effect?
  • Have I tried to stop without success?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you may be struggling with addiction. The good news is there’s help available. Remember, addiction is treatable. 

The Benefits of Connecting With Spirituality During Recovery 

stigma of addiction

If you’re struggling with addiction, consider seeking help from a higher power. When you have a solid spiritual foundation, you’re less likely to use substances. You’re also less likely to stop the cycle of resorting to addictive behaviors to help cope with life’s challenges. 

Connecting with your spirituality can help you forgive yourself and others. It can also provide you with: 

  • Guidance – when you feel lost 
  • Strength – when you feel that you’re not enough 
  • Hope – when you feel overwhelmed 

Spirituality and Addiction

Spirituality can teach you how to love and accept yourself unconditionally. When you embrace your spirituality, you discover that what the Universe has created flawlessly cannot be undone. 

No matter what you’ve done in your life. No matter how many mistakes and indiscretions you’ve dabbled in. Regardless of what others say about you… you remain as intact and whole as the day Source loved you into existence.

Four Central Beliefs

If you ever ask yourself, “Who or what will rescue me from this never-ending cycle of highs and lows?” The answer: You will. If you’re willing. By connecting with your spirituality, you can build a sense of worth and trust in yourself if you’re ready to accept these four central beliefs:

“First, you believe that what God created can be changed by your own mind. 

Second, you believe that what is perfect can be rendered imperfect or lacking. 

Third, you believe that you can distort the creations of God, including yourself. 

Fourth, you believe that you can create yourself and that the direction of your own creation is up to you.”

– A Course in Miracles

Embrace Your Humanity

By realizing that everyone struggles with addiction on some level, we can help break the stigma surrounding it. 

Imagine breaking free from addiction and experiencing more happiness and stability in your life. It’s possible with the right support. Remember, it’s okay to be imperfect. What matters is that you get back up and keep moving forward. You can learn to love yourself – flaws and all – and believe you deserve an addiction-free life.

If you feel you’re struggling with the stigma of addiction and need help moving forward, you can book a free Discovery Call with me. Together, we’ll explore how you can give up suffering and step into a new path of recovery. 

By Laurette DeJulian

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  1. Understanding Drug Use and Addiction DrugFacts | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  2. Addiction – Dr. Gabor Maté

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