September is National Recovery Month, and congratulations to everyone who has won this very difficult battle with substance use. It is, however, an on-going challenge.
One issue that poses a barrier to recovery is stigma. There are feelings of fear, disgrace, failure, shame and blame around substance use disorder (SUD) for the individual, the family and society in general.
These attitudes keep individuals from seeking help. Their loved ones may feel guilt for not protecting them from the drugs and may delay seeking help for fear of public shame.
People struggling with SUD can be difficult, lie and commit crimes, and they must be held accountable. But they also need support, time, treatment, counseling and hope. We can all help them by not using terms like junkie, druggie and other derogatory names and by learning more about addiction.
It can happen to anyone.
Stigma solves nothing and only prolongs this deadly drug epidemic.