Removing the Stigma of Recovery

May 24, 2021

Removing the Stigma of Recovery

Recovery is more than mastering the 12 steps or completing all of the program courses. It’s gaining confidence in yourself to better understand both the discipline and freedom that stems from the addiction recovery process. However, rehabilitation is an internal working — a spiritual, emotional, and mental journey that requires an inside effort that few people, if any, from the outside get to witness. Perhaps that’s part of the uphill climb: asking, convincing, and maybe begging others to recognize all of the hard work that your heart and soul have put into winning against an invisible monster of addiction. Ask them to choose celebration and encouragement over all else.

Even though recovery is a feat worthy of establishing a sense of pride and a healthy presence of mind, one of the biggest challenges throughout the process is facing, and learning to combat, the stigma that our culture has created around drug recovery. The level of difficulty rises as the people we are closest to accept the stereotypes, assume the worst, and script their own narratives of those walking through rehabilitation. Maybe a close family member is wary that you’ll lapse, unsure if the change is possible, or there might be a dear friend who refuses to extend an olive branch and let the past stay in the past.

At Renaissance Ranch, all staff, team members, and co-recoverees are there to support, encourage, and champion your healing and growth. To ensure that you receive this same level of support following program completion, Renaissance Ranch offers training and encouragement for you and your loved ones along the way. This type of training and encouragement removes the stereotypes and stigmas around addiction recovery and leaves room for forgiveness, understanding, and growth along the journey.

Here are three practical tools to block out the assumptions and rally others to champion your recovery.

#1: Take Advantage Of The Family Program

Some of the greatest bouts of shame, fear, and anxiety surrounding addiction recovery center on the family. It’s natural to worry about what family members might think, whether they’ve been there from the start or are new to hearing about your journey. Perhaps bad memories, mistakes, and mess-ups have built a wall out of fear, leaving you unsure how to tear down the old and pave the way for the new.

Rather than anticipating awkward conversations or prepping for tons of misunderstanding, Renaissance Ranch has created the Family Program that fills in the uncomfortable gaps with proper education, resources, and training.

Renaissance Ranch recognizes that addiction is a disease, but it’s also a disease that impacts the entire family unit—moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and more. Each family member benefits from the Family Program as it focuses on both group and individual needs, walking with each person, right where they are — assumptions, fears, and all. They can come to grips with understanding addiction and recognize how to overcome its challenges, and support their loved ones fighting through the process.

#2: Trust The Professional Therapists

Like drug addiction, society often creates stigmas surrounding therapy. To some, therapy seems “weak,” as if showing up is accepting failure. But as you know, admitting the problem and seeking help are the bravest steps you can take to begin healing. If you can understand the full benefits of therapy, it’s easier to explain the process with family and friends who can also benefit from accepting the advantages of therapy.

Renaissance Ranch believes that “Knowledge is Power,” and the more we understand mind, body, and spirit, the more we can work with it rather than against it. Programs include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Enhancement Therapy, Psycho-Educational Therapy, Recreational Therapy, and Group Psychotherapy.

Whether you feel more comfortable in a group, one-on-one, or in a formal educational setting, Renaissance Ranch provides master ’s-level therapists who can break the barriers and stereotypes of therapy to allow maximal healing.

#3: Give Grace Where Grace Is Needed

Often, people on the outside looking in (watching someone else fight drug addiction) assume that the addiction came from a place of pure selfishness, a place that neglected how this decision, time and time again, would impact others. One way to remove this stigma from an emotional and spiritual place is for the recoveree to extend grace.

In fact, both family members and the recoveree will need grace through the healing process. Like any other physical healing post-surgery, there will be soreness, aches, pains, scars, therapy, and lots of lost sleep to reach the end goal. Just as the recoveree fights the hurt, the family, friends, and supports are also sacrificing time, sleep, and even their emotions to aid their loved one.

It seems like a parent-to-teenager mentality of respecting space, posing honest conversation, and making room for mistakes, but this is how both parties can heal together. When emotions and even fears can be explained in a healthy way from both sides, grace becomes much easier to extend and even receive. Guilt from both parties will likely creep up, but grace wins.

Break the Cycle

There are many studies out there that have found that large percentages of men suffer from mental illness and face addiction but not enough seek treatment. This leads to very serious consequences. To fix this we must end the stigmas that men who are struggling face.

What is a Stigma?

“Stigma is when someone views you in a negative way because you have a distinguishing characteristic or personal trait that’s thought to be, or actually is, a disadvantage (a negative stereotype),” the Mayo Clinic explains. Stigmas are incredibly dangerous and have led to discrimination against men who seek help and stops men who need treatment. They can lead to harmful side effects including:

  • Reluctance to seek help for addiction or mental illness
  • Health insurance may not adequately cover important treatments that could help someone or save their life.
  • Some men may face bullying or harassment for speaking out about their struggles with mental health or addiction.

“There is work for us to do as a society regarding the stigma of asking for help,” Zach Levin of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation explained to Healthline. “While we have done a much better job of reducing stigma and expanding opportunities for support, men still may be experiencing shame and guilt that could lead to them being less willing to ask for help.”

A cause for the stigma may be partially due to the societal belief that men must be strong and macho. They are taught from a young age that they are not allowed to be soft and show emotions because it is seen as a sign of weakness. While strength is incredibly important we must also remember that it is okay to ask for help sometimes.

How to End the Stigma

Ending the stigma completely will take a lot of work people all over. A good place for you to start is to recognize when you need help and understanding that doing so is good. Never forget that God is here for you, even at your darkest moments:

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Building a support system that will encourage you to take the steps necessary to take care of your mental health is also important. It is also important for you to speak up for yourself and others who are suffering from mental health issues and addiction. Face those who don’t understand with an open heart and educate them on why seeking treatment and ending this dangerous stigma is so important.

God wants you to understand that you are important and deserve to live a happy life, so if you are struggling don’t be afraid to ask for help. He will give you the strength you need to take care of yourself.

Breaking your own stereotypes that surround addiction and recovery, as well as inviting close loved ones into the healing process, can be challenging. Past, present, and future mistakes require forgiveness and understanding. Welcoming others into your journey is a sign of strength, a sign of loving those who have suffered with you. Our team at Renaissance Ranch offers Master’s degree therapists and professional, educational, hands-on programs that encourage overall healing — mind, body, and spirit — for not only you but your loved ones, too. Just as Renaissance Ranch supports you, we believe that you need and deserve a support system outside of the program. We are here to stand in the gap and provide hope and education to rebuild broken bridges with loved ones. Your community here at Renaissance Ranch is ready to help both you and your closest family and friends. To learn more, contact us today at (801) 308-8898.