By Kiana Jones

Too Little, Too Late

Why is it that so many people often realize that drug addiction is a serious problem when it is too late? Take the passing away of musicians who have suffered from drug abuse. People often say things like “This is why we need to check on our friends,” or “You never know what someone is going through until they’re gone.” It’s not that these sentiments are wrong, but more so that they are often said too late. We have to show our support for those suffering at this very moment, not after we’ve lost them. This process of support should start with stopping the stigma and making a collective effort to treat those who have fallen victim to drug abuse.

Why The Drug Abuse Stigma Exists

We typically classify conditions with some sort of pathological effect as a “disease.” Whereas, we see conditions such as substance abuse as a disorder of behavior. What if I told you that the abuse of cocaine, alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs have just as much of a genetic component as Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, panic disorder, and more? If all of these disorders share some sort of genetic component, why is one a behavior and not the other? The truth is, drug addiction isn’t so much just someone who makes poor decisions, it is a disease. A disease that can be treated and shouldn’t be used to stigmatize others.

Addiction Can Affect Anyone

It turns out that our brains are hardwired to seek the things that we enjoy. It is a means of survival to seek what gives us pleasure so we can find it later on. It is no wonder people suffering from drug addiction constantly go back to the drugs that are giving them the pleasure they seek. As with any disease, drug addiction can be difficult to treat from person to person, but it is something that should be fought. Never allow drug addiction to win, because it is one disease we can all work to stop, one step at a time.

Strides to Stop the Stigma

  • Stop using derogatory terms when describing someone who is going through drug addiction. Words like “junkie” only keep the stigma alive.
  • Offer your support. Make sure everything you do is for their best benefit.
  • Actively listen to those suffering and don’t judge them. The worst thing you can do is judge someone for what they are going through. They are not in need of a moral compass, but they are in need of a understanding friend.
  • There is no straightforward way to go about stopping the stigma, but the first step is to educate yourself on drug addiction. Having empathy and compassion for others during their times of need will help those who feel alone and use drugs as a coping mechanism. Because drug addiction is similar to many other diseases, try not to feel defeated. Instead, think of what you can do to overcome the disease.

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