Join The Voices of Addiction Recovery

Addiction and Recovery Blog

If you are working a program of addiction recovery, you have a lot to be proud about. You have, even those of you new to the program, have come a long way from where you were. In the grips of a progressive illness with generally dismal outcomes. Some of you may have even surpassed most people’s idea of rock bottom. You might even say you were looking up at the bottom. Addiction is a take no prisoners mental illness, people with a disorder, if left untreated, will likely die as a result. It is for that reason that anyone working a program of recovery has so much for which to be grateful.

If you have undergone addiction treatment, then you know that your disease is nobody’s business but your own. You know the program that is saving your life is an anonymous program. You also know that there are many things that prevented you from seeking treatment for as long as you did. Usually, at the top of that list of reasons is the social stigma that has long been a black cloud over addiction. The belief that addiction is not a disease, but rather a moral failing among individuals with weak will. The power of such societal beliefs should not be underestimated.

Due to the prevalence of social stigma, many addicts and alcoholics go without treatment. Even if they can easily access or afford addiction treatment services, many will put it off. It is a decision that is often fatal. Many addicts die of an overdose before they ever have an opportunity to give recovery a chance.

Ending The Stigma of Addiction Requires Everyone

The program you are working is anonymous for good reasons. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a role in ending stigma by speaking out. There is no time like the present to let the world know that recovery from this mental illness is possible. September is National Recovery Month, a time to raise awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders. And a time to recognize the millions of people actively working programs of recovery.

The theme this year is Join the Voices for Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) asks that both individuals in recovery and their family members share their personal stories and successes. By doing so, it could encourage a significant number of people to give recovery a chance. If you are interested in sharing your story, please click here. Below is an example of a courageous individual in recovery:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

You may not be at a point in your recovery that you are willing to share your story with society. That is OK. Some people might not ever be comfortable to do so, which is also just fine. You can still have a role in spreading the message that addiction is a mental health disorder. And that recovery is possible by continuing to live by the principles of addiction recovery. Paying forward what was given to you gratis.

Recovery is Possible

If you are a male who is still caught in the vicious cycle of addiction, please contact 10 Acre Ranch. We know it is a hard decision. We know that your disease will always try to convince you that there isn’t a problem. Even when you know there is. Maybe National Recovery Month, and the inspiring stories of brave individuals, can be the catalyst for your own recovery.

Addiction Stigma In The Language

Prescription painkillers oxycodone spilling from a bottle on a table with other bottles out of focus

Alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder. Addict, alcoholic, alcohol and/or substance abuser. Junkie, crackhead, dope fiend, pill head, et al. If you are in recovery, you’re acutely familiar with all of these terms. Many of you have even referred to yourself using such pejorative names. The language we use to describe people who have been touched by the insidious disease of addiction can, and does, have an effect on the afflicted. Even if those suffering from such conditions don’t know it.

Addiction is a complex disease that is centered in the brain. The causes are debatable, but the treatment is not—generally speaking. Despite the fact that use disorders are accepted mental health conditions, the general public remains skeptical about how much choice is involved. To be sure, people suffering from addiction made an initial choice to try a substance. But what followed for those predisposed to the disease had little to do with choice.

When we refer to people as abusers, a word still used among people even in the field of addiction, the condition becomes stigmatized. The word abuse is hardly ever accompanied by something good. Yet, even in modern times when addiction is understood better than ever, it is hard to change the language of addiction. Rest assured, however, that by altering how we talk about the disease, more people can be encouraged to seek help.

Addiction Stigma In The Language

Changing how we label substance use disorders is difficult. Even experts struggle to agree on the correct way to go about the renaming. Even when a label sounds scientific “use disorder,” dis-order still carries a negative connotation. The word “abuse” needs no explanation. Some people have even raised concerns about the word alcoholic, after all, there are centuries of negative undertones associated with the word.

What’s more, there is likely a huge contingent of people in recovery who would not be receptive to identifying as, “My name is John D., and I have an alcohol use disorder.” But changing how people in recovery refer to themselves is not as important, at the end of the day. Changing how society refers to people in the grips of addiction, could have a profitable effect. People who are described as having a form of chronic disease, are far more likely to seek help. Compared to people who are labeled as “X” abusers. And researchers tend to agree on this.

In fact, recent studies have shown that the language we use actually matters. Dr. John F. Kelly, director of the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and associate professor of psychiatry and addiction medicine at Harvard Medical School, conducted a study which supports this idea. His findings showed that medical professionals are more likely to treat people with substance use disorders differently if they are described as “abusers,” according to U.S. News & World Report.

“Dropping the use of stigmatizing language “can save lives,” says Dr. John F. Kelly. Certain language “could suggest willful misconduct, which some people believe should be punished, not treated.”

From Stigma to Treatment

Dr. Kelly’s sentiments are shared by the former Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the article reports. Michael Botticelli, the executive director at the Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine at Boston Medical Center, says:

“Changing the Language of Addiction,” a 2016 paper he co-wrote for JAMA. “Stigma isolates people, discourages people from coming forward for treatment and leads some clinicians, knowingly or unknowingly, to resist delivering evidence-based treatment services.”

Botticelli co-authored a paper on this very subject that was published in JAMA.

Changing the language of addiction in America could help some of the millions of people who are resistant to seeking help. Fear of reprisals for seeking help is deeply rooted, due to the government’s response to addiction in the past. The stakes are extremely high, people are dying from the disease every day. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact 10 Acre Ranch, today.