Discrimination is an ugly action that dissolves the dignity and self-esteem of human beings.  In addition to the burden of having a debilitating habit, many drug addicts and alcohol have to defend themselves against terrible social stigmas that negatively impact their quality of life. The social stigmas that society places on the backs of these individuals can lead to disastrous outcomes that inevitably affects all citizens in communities.

Succumbing to inhumane treatment makes it difficult for those suffering from addiction to get the treatment they need. In fear of being harshly judged, many drug addicts and alcoholics choose to hide their illness. It’s clear that they’d rather suffer in silence than to be publicly ridiculed.

There’s several types of social stigmas hindering the recovery of substance abusers. One of the most common forms occurs in the medical arena. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), a number pharmaceutical companies withhold contributions in the development of new treatments for drug addicts and alcoholics. Furthermore, several physicians refuse to provide their services to addicts. The lack of direct care options for these individuals oppresses them and leaves them feeling like there’s no way out. As a result, many people give up hope and risk relapse.

Secondly, those recovering from substance abuse problems experience prejudices that delay their progress in the workplace. Many companies deny former substance abusers employment in fear that they won’t meet expectations or that their disease will resurface. Consequently, many recovering addicts live in poverty. The stress of not being able to hold a decent job or make ends meet may lead them to fall back into their old habits as well.

Alienation from family and friends is also a barrier. Some people feel that acknowledging the addiction of someone in their family will bring down their own self-image or conflict with the values they’ve tried to enforce. They may choose to cut off friendships or sever ties with the relative that has the illness in order to preserve their reputation.

Despite the number of stigmas that addicts face on a regular basis, new aims to decrease the shame these individuals face continues to grow. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that some healthcare professionals are beginning to think twice about using the term ‘addiction’ to prevent offending and isolating patients. Many former substance abusers are also taking stands to eliminate acts of discrimination by advocating on behalf of fellow former addicts and bringing awareness of the topic to the greater community.

Whether we want to face the truth or not, it’s a known fact that social stigmas do more harm than good to substance abusers in the process of changing the course of their lives. Becoming more knowledgeable about the different faces of these societal biases can help speed up the recovery process for individuals