DRUG ADDICTION COUNSELING, Part III
This posting is provided by Michael Mariano a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor. He has worked at First Hospital Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania, Beth Israel Medical Center Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program in New York City, and is currently at Bergen Regional Medical Center in Northeast New Jersey.
THE STIGMA OF ADDICTION
The strong stigma our society attaches to drug and alcohol addiction often deters victims from seeking treatment. You must remember that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing. Both sufferers and family and friends must resist seeing addiction as moral weakness. Doing so will make recovery nearly impossible. Advocating for more funding and services for those suffering from addiction is paramount. The prison system jail primarily those suffering from substance abuse issues and receive little treatment with poor
reintegration programs that are understaffed. Majority of addicts don’t need jail time, they need treatment to give them the skills and support to live a healthier more productive life.
The addiction stigma often extends to even among those who treat them. Working in the addiction field can be extremely difficult and frustrating. If those aren’t empathetic when working in the field of addiction they don’t usually last long working in the field. I have learned that genuine compassion is what allows someone to be more open and receptive to treatment. I have heard others say, “Oh, they are an addict or alcoholic. I don’t deal with those types.” Such comments overlook the reality that the addict has untapped potential that are stifled by their substance abuse.
These are not morally corrupt victims; they are sufferers who have taken an inappropriate coping path, and who need help getting on a path to recovery. Before that is possible, however, they need compassion to help them deal with their feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, helplessness, and despair. Helping such victims is not easy. Unfortunately, without support and empathy, sufferers are more likely to relapse, which will bring more suffering for them, family and friends, and the larger community. I encourage you to continue educating yourself and others on how addicts deserve your empathy and understanding of their struggles.
If you think you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, or if you just want to have a more fulfilling life, I encourage you to seek treatment as soon as possible. Addiction provides instant gratification for long-term suffering, and recovery is a long uphill battle. There are a variety of treatments that are free or covered by most insurance plans.
Regardless of your level of motivation to quit using drugs and alcohol, I encourage everyone to attend an open self-help meeting. This action will allow you to be exposed to many other people you may be able to identify with. You will see how social support and compassion is valuable in an atmosphere of understanding, not one of criticism over moral shortcomings.
SAMHSA’s National Hotline 1-800-662-HELP (4357)