Addiction and Stigma

I am writing this blog and have published my memoir under an assumed name. Why is this? Due to the stigma surrounding problem drinking, the mess that goes along with that and the potential it has to impact on my life. I live in the UK, and upon returning to work after my rehab, I found that addiction is not included in the Equality Act. This is the legislation which is supposed to protect people from discrimination, and applies to people from minorities, with disabilities etc. I did not have any legal right for support to manage my addiction within the workplace, which I would have had had I been off work with a physical disability or even a mental health problem such as depression or bipolar.

Addiction is still very much viewed as a negative and moral issue. It is the fault of the addict that they are addicted. Attitudes may be changing in certain quarters, but on the whole people with addictions are largely treated punitively, blamed for the way they are, rather than offered empathy or compassion.

What would it take for attitudes to change? I don’t think there are any easy answers to this, but a recognition of the role of trauma in the development of addiction would be a starting point. I know for me, the immense pain I had to deal with as a child and also throughout my adult life were major factors contributing to my addiction. I’m sure that most addicts have similar trauma in their history. Yet more often than not, addicts are blamed for their addiction. punished and stigmatized. This makes treatment and recovery so much harder, as anyone who is attempting to find treatment for their addiction has to deal with negative attitudes from most places they may otherwise look to for help.

 

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