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Overcoming the Stigma of Addiction

Many people don’t get treatment for addiction because they don’t want to think of themselves as addicts or they don’t want other people to think of them as addicts. Addiction is stigmatized because when it’s publicly visible, it is already advanced. In the popular imagination, addicts are criminals and vagrants, but they typically don’t start out that way. The addictions everyone can see have been growing for a long time and they only become visible when they are completely out of control. For every junkie on the street, there are perhaps hundreds of people in various stages of addiction leading apparently normal lives.

Addiction has always been with us in some form or other. We become addicted when something hijacks the normal brain circuitry of effort and reward. Alcohol and various other drugs–usually plants or mushrooms–have been used through most of human history. Alcoholism today is probably much the same as it has been for centuries, except the social context is different and cars have made drinking far more deadly.

Other drugs are far more potent than they have ever been. Opium has been used for centuries, but heroin, which is 100 times more potent, requires special equipment and expertise, which is still relatively new. Synthetic drugs like fentanyl are newer still and more potent. We don’t instinctively recognize the danger of these substances.

We are living in a time when there is a perfect storm combining highly addictive drugs with a healthcare system that over-prescribes them. People trust their doctors to prescribe safe and effective treatment and sometimes doctors get it wrong. In recent decades, a lot of doctors prescribed too many opioid painkillers and many people who would otherwise never have been tempted by opioids suddenly found themselves addicted.

Although there are behaviors commonly associated with addiction, there is no typical addict. That is more true today than it has ever been. An opioid addict can be a teenage athlete who became addicted while recovering from a knee injury or a retired grandmother dealing with chronic back pain. Above all, addiction is not a moral failing. It’s something that happens to some people, but unless it’s treated, it will consume more of your life.

People are increasingly aware that addiction is a complex problem requiring treatment and support, and not something to be ashamed of. Gardens Wellness Center treats all aspects of addiction–physical, emotional, social, and spiritual–in a supportive and comfortable environment. Learn more about treatment today. Call us at 844-828-1050 or email us at