There are many stereotypes that are brought to mind when thinking about those who struggle with addiction. People who abuse substances are typically deviants and don’t engage in a society like the rest of the population, or they embody different values to mainstream society: unemployed, victims of harsh upbringing, high school dropouts, and prostitutes. They take drugs in dirty alleyways, rob innocent people, go on binges, and engage in high-risk behaviors.
The reality of substance abusers is the majority are just like everyone else. They are parents, children, friends, co-workers, sisters, and brothers. They hold down jobs, have friends, go to social functions, and enjoy their weekends. Some fail to manage their addiction and do become entrenched in a lifestyle that the stereotypes embody, but many do not. Addiction does not discriminate between rich and poor, young or old. As a result, our alcohol detoxification program is designed for each individual to be successful.
Common Addiction Stereotypes
The word addict is associated with numerous different negative stereotypes. The subscribed characteristics can differ slightly depending on whether the person is an alcohol addict or a drug addict. The stereotypical image of the alcoholic is:
- A person who drinks cheap liquor – typically from a brown paper bag.
- A person who drinks daily and is never sober.
- They have to drink as soon as they wake up in the morning.
- They will move from job to job or be unemployable.
- They will engage in domestic violence.
- They become physically or verbally aggressive in public when they are intoxicated.
- These are people who often prefer to drink alone.
- They can be associated with certain ethnic groups or communities.
- They are likely to be estranged from their family.
- They frequently have blackouts where they can’t remember substantial chunks of time.
- They are usually homeless.
- Alcoholics come from deprived backgrounds or were abused as children.
- They are terrible parents.
- They have to hit rock bottom before they can recover.
Dangers of Negative Stereotypes
Stereotypes can be dangerous for many reasons, including:
- They are almost always wrong or only provide half-truths.
- People use negative images of other people as a means to justify their own bad behavior.
- All conflicts begin by demonizing the enemy.
- They lead to hatred and resentment, and these negative feelings can destroy a person’s life.
Stereotyping substance abusers can lead to many difficulties in recognizing and treating people. Treatments and services for people who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction should not be used to make generalizations about who, what, and why people have an addiction. There are many factors why a person suffers from a substance abuse problem and being able to treat everyone should be the priority.
Some people may find that they make assumptions about people who are in high-risk groups for drug use. People from low socio-economic groups, from broken homes, from particular suburbs or towns, may find they are discriminated against for the perceived addiction. Additionally, some legitimate health conditions can cause people to exhibit behaviors that are like someone who is under the influence of drugs.
Challenging the Stigma of Alcohol Addiction
One way to help combat stigma may be to talk openly about the issues surrounding alcohol. However, this may depend on how we discuss them. Thinking about the language we use is important, and avoiding terms that label or blame people.
When we hear personal stories about those who experience problems and understand the reasons behind them, we are more likely to feel compassion and want to help or support them. If you are worried about your drinking or that of someone, you know, you should talk to someone in confidence about it, like your friends, family, or counselor.
Stigma can, and often should be challenged. Talking openly about alcohol may help break down stereotypes and lead to more empathy and less discrimination. In turn, this will help everyone – friends, employers, colleagues, and neighbors – in supporting those who may be struggling with alcohol problems is surely the best approach.
Educating yourself about the reality of alcoholism is another notable approach to help debunk these harmful stereotypes. To get started, you can check out these articles from our blog:
- 10 Inspirational Quotes About Alcoholism Treatment
- Alcohol Rehab Throughout History: How Has It Changed?
Where You Can Seek Help for Addiction
If you or a loved one has realized they finally need to seek addiction treatment, or you need some help persuade them, give Shadow Mountain Recovery a call today. We have experienced staff that can help combat addiction to any drug, and we specialize in holistic treatment to treat the mind, body, and spirit.
Our Albuquerque Intensive Outpatient Treatment Center is a unique addiction treatment program built around healing and rebuilding the family and is located near the gorgeous South Sandia Peak Mountains.
If you or a loved one needs an individualized treatment plan to help with addiction, call Shadow Mountain Recovery today: (800) 203-8249