Addicts- is it their brain or their will?

11/08/2017

A hot topic in today’s social media world is addiction and overdose. One does not need to look hard on social media to see a post like: “I have an idea, just don’t use” or “Another angel taken too soon.” There is no denying the state of emergency our country is in with the current opioid epidemic but lacking attention in this matter is the ongoing debate regarding the moral model of addiction versus the disease model of addiction: this debate fuels our public perception and increases stigma.

There’s a large battle out there, the moral model camp believes it’s an individual’s fault; that they choose this path and they have to suffer the consequences. Meanwhile, the disease model camp believes it’s something more- that is a disease; where a chemical/biological component is at play.

Regardless of what you believe, people’s perceptions of addiction create a stigma. That stigma becomes a wall that people struggling with addiction must overcome to get the treatment they need.  Substance use disorders are highly stigmatized which can result in a significant barrier for accessing treatment services. In certain cases this stigma can be so severe that it causes afflicted individuals to never receive the services available to them out of the fear of public ridicule.  There is no easy solution to the stigma associated with drug addiction and its treatment…The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) believes stigma is most likely to diminish as a result of public education and broader acceptance of addiction as a treatable disease.1

Regardless of how people find their way into the grips of addiction, they are still human, still a son or daughter, still a member of our community, and as our history and current situation has proven, pointing the finger and lifting our chins up at these individuals has nothing but adverse effects. We are not asking for pity. We are not asking for donations.  We are asking for love and compassion.

If you or a loved one are suffering with substance use there is a way out. People can change particularly if we change our stigma promoting thoughts and demonstrate our empathy towards people with substance abuse conditions.  Project Courage is committed to helping the fight against stigma and providing individuals with quality care.  If you would like more information on our programs or services you can call us direct or leave a submission here.

1Institute of Medicine: National Institute of Drug Abuse – http://archives.drugabuse.gov/about/welcome/aboutdrugabuse/stigma/

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