Speaking Up About Addiction
Addiction is often a silent disease. While no one is ashamed to talk about having arthritis or high blood pressure, the disease of addiction has long carried a terrible stigma. Those struggling with addiction are too often looked upon, by others as well as themselves, as weak, morally inferior and lacking in willpower. It is difficult to speak up and speak out about the challenges of this disease, but when we do, we can make real, positive changes. Only with awareness and recognition will more addicts get the help they need, while future addictions are prevented.
The Power Of Awareness
The expression goes that knowledge is power and it carries a great amount of truth. When something like addiction remains shadowed and hidden, ignorance is allowed to grow. When someone knows nothing about addiction, the lies and misinformation seep in along with assumptions and prejudices. Someone who is ignorant about addiction may not be aware that a friend, coworker, or even a family member is struggling with the disease.
Raising awareness about addiction can be powerful. Spreading the word about how damaging this disease can be is a great way to prevent people from abusing substances in the first place. Prevention is the best way to help spare people from the pain and suffering caused by addiction. Raising awareness can even help motivate other people to help make a difference. Even for those who never had an interest in drug use or drinking, learning more about addiction can inspire anyone to get involved with helping others.
Awareness can also make big changes over the long term. It might feel as if one person, or one small group, speaking up and talking about addiction makes little difference. The truth is that it can have a snowball effect. Your efforts to reach others inspire the next person, and the next person. When enough people start speaking up, lawmakers start to listen, as do organizations with the means to fund research and treatment. The act of speaking up, even by one person, can be powerful.
Sharing Stories Of Addiction
If you have been impacted by addiction, whether your own or someone else’s, sharing that story is one important way to speak out and raise awareness. The more we speak about addiction and the more we hear about it, the more it loses its mystery and stigma.
Several organizations encourage and host events that allow you to get your story out there:
- The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has named September National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. This event encourages people to learn about addiction and recovery as well as treatment options.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration supports October as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month and provides ideas and events for people to share their stories and to learn more about addiction.
- The U.S. Army supports veterans battling drug addiction by encouraging everyone to learn more about addiction, treatment and recovery. It also advocates for celebrating the successes of those who are in recovery and sober.
When it comes to a disease laden with stigma, the only way to banish the shame and ignorance is to speak up. If you have battled addiction, if you have seen a loved one laid low by this disease, or if you simply care about the issue, speak up, spread awareness and help others learn more about the disease of addiction!
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