There is a plethora of judgment about mental illness and substance abuse issues. Some doctors are uneducated about the issues you face and might be rude and lack understanding. There might be others in your life who are dismissive and unsupportive, as well.
You are not alone in this, but you also have the right to be treated with respect. Some basic actions you can take to ensure proper treatment are to educate yourself and others. You have the right to receive person-centered care, as well as the right to be treated beyond your diagnosis. Remember that you are more than a diagnosis and you deserve to be treated with respect. Knowing your rights as a patient is critical when you are seeking care.
Choosing recovery and battling addiction will never make you less of a person. You deserve the same respect afforded to any other person.
The first thing you need to do as you pursue recovery is to educate yourself about your condition(s). It is common to struggle with addiction and have an underlying mental health condition. When you seek treatment for recovery, be honest about all of your symptoms, including the symptoms that have led to your use of substances. As you examine all of your symptoms, you may discover the root of your substance use disorder to be related to other conditions.
If such is the case, you should try to educate yourself about those conditions, so you can receive proper treatment from your support system and any medical or legal professionals who are working with you. Educating yourself is essential to receive proper treatment for your condition(s).
You may encounter people who are ignorant of your condition(s) and pass judgment upon you because of the stigma created by stereotypes. In these situations, carefully explain your condition(s) and the care you may need. Your friends and family will most likely support you and be open to learning more about the underlying causes. Surround yourself with people who care and are willing to learn with you about your disease. As you pursue recovery, you need an educated and loving support system.
Demand Person-Centered Care
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains the importance of person-centered care:
“Person-centered care enables consumers to make decisions about their care. Family and peer involvement gives them the support they need.”
Person-centered care takes into account your personal needs and does not just look at your diagnoses. Instead, person-centered care considers your environment, in addition to cultural, language, and social needs, according to SAMHSA. You deserve to be treated as a whole person, not just a person with a diagnosis.
You Are More Than a Diagnosis
When you introduce yourself, it is doubtful you begin with a diagnosis. “Hi. I have a substance use disorder,” is an introduction unlikely to be used by anyone. You have a name. You have interests. Your loved ones are a part of who you are. You are not a diagnosis. Your diagnosis does not define you.
As you focus on recovery, you will begin to figure out who you are beyond the numbing you have done with substances. You may discover you have new interests as you encounter others in recovery with varied interests. Be open to exploring new things as you focus on relearning who you are. The main thing to remember as you pursue recovery is that you are and have always been more than a diagnosis.
Things to Remember
While there is much judgment in the world regarding every mental health condition, there are also people who are willing to you if you are struggling. While stigma runs rampant in society, hiding your condition from healthcare providers and those in your support system will only harm your recovery. Being completely honest about your needs and behaviors may save your life.
As you seek recovery, you may find yourself afraid to advocate for your needs, but advocating for yourself is exactly what you need to do. You are your own best source of support. Refusing to advocate for yourself could eliminate the possibility of receiving the help you need. At Renaissance Ranch, we recognize the struggle and want to help you learn how to advocate for yourself and receive the support you need.
When you advocate for yourself, you are championing your cause and ensuring the success of your recovery. Do not hesitate to stand up for yourself. You have the right and responsibility to make yourself and your needs heard.
Advocating for yourself is not something that can be learned overnight and may seem difficult to do in the face of ignorance and stigma, but championing for yourself and your needs will only help ensure the success of your recovery. At Renaissance Ranch, we recognize that you are more than your diagnosis and we value all of who you are. We do not tolerate stigma. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to alcohol and/or other substances, you are not alone. Help is available and you can get the proper assistance you need and deserve at Renaissance Ranch. You deserve to be heard and to live your best life. Do not hesitate to reach out. At Renaissance Ranch, we offer help for every step of the recovery process, including a sober living home and an aftercare support network. Contact Renaissance Ranch today at (801) 308-8898 and learn how we can help.