Drug and substance abuse numbers are skyrocketing, and yet there is still stigma around seeking treatment or even associating with someone who has a substance abuse issue. Whether you are having difficulties with substances or know someone who is, this will help you understand the stigma and treatment available to people suffering from substance abuse.

Why is There Stigma?

Addiction has long been considered a problem of morality and simple choices. Those who buy into the notion that addiction is a morality issue believe that anyone suffering from an addiction issue must be bad. There are others who believe it's a simple choice and can't understand why someone with an addiction keeps taking the substance.

Neither is true, but they have both led to catastrophic guilt and an unwillingness for sufferers to admit their struggles and seek treatment.

Removing the Stigma

There is a stigma for receiving treatment and with associating with someone who has dealt with addiction issues. Regardless of which side of the fence you're in, removing the stigma is imperative to help everyone better understand what addiction is really like. This leads to intense guilt and shame for those who suffer from this issue.

The first step to beating stigma is learning more. Learn about the neurological changes that occur from addiction. Read about why addiction is so hard to stop and how it's far more complex than a simple yes or no decision. Talk about addiction and humanize it. This is a real human problem that can be very challenging for anyone. You should also show compassion to anyone facing addiction issues. Be compassionate to others and to yourself if you are struggling with addiction.

Types of Treatment

Drug addiction treatment largely depends on the severity of the addiction. Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient, or IOP, are best for less severe forms of addiction. You get access to facilities and counseling with this treatment type and you can go about your everyday life. Next is a Partial Hospitalization Program, or PHP, where you are hospitalized during the day and able to go home at night. This is meant for more intensive addiction issues along with mental health concerns.

The next step up is a residential program. You will stay in a distraction-free rehab facility where you will receive 24/7 care. This is intended to help you by cutting away all the stressors of the outside world. There is also medical detox and Medication-Assisted Treatment, or MAT, available for clients. MAT helps with withdrawal symptoms, but according to AION Health Group, "it’s important to know that it is not a cure-all solution for addiction (and it’s not ideal for 'all' clients)."

Helping Those Battling Addiction

The first step is recognizing this as a medical condition. Choose your words with care and compassion when speaking to anyone with an addiction as they are already feeling guilt and shame. Help them find professionals and treatment centers for their needs. Recovery can be a bumpy road with ups and downs. Continuing providing support throughout the journey even if they relapse.

Stay committed to their recovery. Remove any temptations from your home and encourage them with healthy activities. Be sure to set boundaries, especially if they refuse treatment. You must be both loving and firm.


Drug addiction still has a stigma around it that makes treatment difficult, but you can remove the stigma by learning more, being compassionate and helping those in need.

Author's Bio: 

Luna Dean is journalist and professional writer. She loves to write about trending topics.