Experts Warn Addiction Stigma Can Be Fatal to Millions of Americans

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Millions more Americans struggle with drug-related addiction annually than you might think

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 23.5 million people age 12 or older were in need of treatment for a drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009. That same year, only 2.6 million actually received that treatment.

Why did so so many adolescents and adults go without treatment?

Substance abuse experts blame the stigma surrounding addiction for the magnitude of these alarming statistics.

According to a 2014 study from Johns Hopkins, people are more likely to display negative attitudes toward substance abuse than toward overall mental illness. The stigma surrounding drug or alcohol abuse is enough to cause people to hide, deny and neglect their issues with substance abuse, even when they’re aware they need help.

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If left untreated, addictions and substance abuse disorders can be deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 47,000 people died due to drug overdose in 2014. Approximately 88,000 men and women suffer alcohol-related deaths annually, according to data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Thankfully, research suggests there are ways to reduce these kinds of harmful – even deadly – stigmas.

Experts suggest several ways everyone can do their part to diminish the stigmas surrounding addiction and substance abuse.  First and foremost, treat anyone with these issues with empathy and respect.

Do not regard addiction as a disease, call someone a “victim” or blame them for their struggle. A person is not in control of their addiction. However, they are in control of whether or not they seek help to overcome it.

Most importantly, know the facts. Spread knowledge, not assumptions. Addiction affects millions of Americans annually; it is not uncommon. It’s time we treat those with these issues as though they deserve the resources necessary to live better, addiction-free lives.


Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?

One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.

But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.


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