Effects of Stigma on Treatment for Addiction

The way in which people perceive addiction has a direct impact on if and when people seek treatment.

Addiction, and mental health as a whole, have been stigmatized in society for many years. Unfortunately, the demonization doesn’t end with the disease itself. It often goes on to apply to the person suffering from the addiction as well.

For those struggling, this idea may hinder their desire to get help. They don’t want to be labeled an addict. Even for those that don’t view addiction negatively, there is still the fear that others will project their perceptions onto them. As such, treatment may not be sought merely to avoid judgment.

Of course, the aforementioned stigma can definitely influence when a person will seek treatment. They may wait longer than they might have without the negative perceptions, due to the possibility of being ridiculed. Thus, instead of trying to get help when the addiction was just beginning to take a hold on one’s life, one may wait until it has full control.

The way that an addict views addiction may also impact when they seek treatment. If they view addiction as either all or nothing, they may not think they need help until they are at the lowest of lows. This viewpoint allows for a lot of excuses, such as I don’t need treatment because I have or haven’t done X. But, if they view addiction as a spectrum, they will be more likely to get help before they have hit rock bottom.

There is No Easy “Cure” For Addiction

It is also pretty common for people to think that merely abstaining from the addictive behavior is the “cure” for addiction. This might make some people not see a point to treatment, since the solution is up to their willpower.

Conversely, if addiction is seen as a multifaceted disorder, treatment looks much more appealing. The merit in finding and mediating the cause, triggers, etc. becomes apparent when you realize the complexities of addiction.

Many aspects of addiction are still highly debated today. However, if you or your loved one are struggling with addiction, there is value in considering whether or not the perceptions you hold are conducive to the outcomes you desire.

Given that addiction can be fatal, it is paramount that we make strides in the right direction.

Treatment for Addiction at Willliamsville Wellness

At Williamsville Wellness, we subscribe to the belief that treatment is oftentimes necessary for those struggling with addiction. Willpower is a component of recovery, but it must be supplemental to addressing addiction at its core for long-term results.

We also view addiction as a spectrum, which is why we have differing levels of care. At the lowest level, we utilize telehealth and visual components to deliver treatment electronically. This program is called smartIOP. The next step up is our Intensive Outpatient (IOP) program, where you come four days a week for three hours. Here, patients engage in individual and group therapy sessions also supplemented with visual components.

If you need more care than IOP, we have Partial Hospitalization (PHP), which is similar to IOP, but it is five hours a day, five days a week. Finally, we have our 28-day residential program that is holistic in nature. We hope by offering these differing levels of care that we can help patients lead sober lives well before they have hit rock bottom.

Finally, the stigmatization of addiction is harder to address since it is a product of many years of demonization. It requires a societal shift in how we view and tend to addiction and the people impacted by it. However, just because it is difficult does not mean we are not trying.

At Williamsville Wellness, we practice what we preach. Many members of our staff are recovering addicts themselves. This not only gives patients an opportunity to speak with people that know what they are going through, but it also shows patients the kind of life they could lead if they keep up their hard work.

By: Courtney Judd