Stigma results from false ideas, misunderstandings, and general ignorance about an issue. Negative attitudes toward persons struggling with any issue are a result of stigma. Another result of stigma is the fear of seeking treatment because of concern about people’s perceptions in our lives. Seeking help is not a failure, nor are you “less than” because you are struggling. The struggle of addiction is real.
According to the CDC, one in 14 Americans reports struggling with addiction to alcohol or other substances. The use of alcohol or other substances is linked to mental health issues, trauma, and a struggle with the management of prescribed medications. Admitting you have a problem is the beginning of treating your problem with abuse of alcohol or other substances.
Addiction Is an Equal Opportunity Disease
There are some professionals in the mental health field who declare the risk of addiction to be solely experienced by those who are low-income and poorly educated. The truth is that many people who have lower socioeconomic status are at risk and may have a greater risk. However, persons in different socioeconomic groups are also at risk. The risk of developing an addiction to alcohol or other substances is found in every socioeconomic class and job category.
Struggling with mental health issues and trauma is also a risk factor for developing an addiction to alcohol or other substances. Along with mental health and trauma, the overprescribing of prescription medications for different problems can be related to the development of addiction. While we think of addiction primarily to opioids because of the current crisis in the United States, it is also possible to become addicted to uppers (such as amphetamines, ecstasy, and medications used to control various attention problems).
As you can see, the problem of addiction does not limit itself to one particular class of people. The potential for addiction is found not only in the homeless but also in doctors and lawyers. You need not be ashamed of your struggle because you are not alone.
Addiction Can Be Considered Genetic
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has performed studies on the role of genetics and epigenetics in the development of addiction. Scientists have found that while most of humanity’s genetic makeup is identical, there is a 0.1% difference in all of us, which accounts for differences in appearance and our likelihood of developing certain diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, mental health issues, and addiction. So, our predisposition to addiction is frequently a result of one’s genetic interplay with the environment. This interplay between genetics and the environment is known as epigenetics.
Epigenetics creates mutations in our genetics and makes us more susceptible to certain diseases. The idea of this interplay is “nature and nurture.” Not only does genetics play a role, but so does our environment. When we experience trauma via abuse or even medical trauma, we can become more susceptible to mental health issues and addictive behaviors. Our status in the world does not create immunity from any disease. Instead, our disease susceptibility results from genetics and how we interact with the world.
The Struggle of Stigma
As stigma is more prevalent regarding mental health issues and addiction, treatment is often avoided. As a result, suicide and overdoses are more frequent. You deserve treatment, and the stigma you face is a result of misinformation and ignorance. You do not have a moral defect or a flaw in your character. You have a disease much like cancer and diabetes. And like cancer and diabetes, you need treatment.
Some health professionals do not know how to cope with your disease and are misinformed. However, their ignorance should not stop you or your family from asking for help. The result of stigma is increased symptoms and consequences of addiction. Seek help from those who are understanding and willing to recognize your condition as a disease deserving of compassionate treatment.
According to the NIDA, “Addiction is a complex brain disorder with behavioral components.” Sadly, many in the world do not understand the struggle and the biological basis. Do not forego treatment because of fear of judgment. You are strong and deserve to live.
Things to Remember
You are not alone. There is no written rule saying you are not at risk of addiction. Addiction can affect people of any socioeconomic status. While addiction is considered more prevalent in lower socioeconomic areas, the problem is still found everywhere. Do not be ashamed. The use of alcohol or other substances creates a new pattern in your brain, making addiction a possibility in anyone. Seeking help is not a weakness but a sign of a willingness to survive.
The struggle of addiction to alcohol or other substances can happen to anyone. This disease does not discriminate and occurs in any population. Do not be ashamed of your struggle. Help is available. You are not alone. At Renaissance Ranch, we recognize you as an individual, not by your diagnosis. We acknowledge the battle of addiction can happen to anyone, and we are ready to listen and help you through the recovery process. At Renaissance Ranch, we offer support for every step of the recovery process, beginning with detoxification and continuing through residential or outpatient treatment into a sober living home as you transfer your skills in recovery into the world around you. We are ready to help you through the struggle of recovery, no matter where you are on your journey. Contact us at Renaissance Ranch today by calling (801) 308-8898 and learn how we can help. We are waiting for your call.