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Confronting the Stigma Around Opioid Use


Mother consoling her sad daughter

Opioid abuse has gained more recognition in recent years due to the increased number of people who are struggling with addiction. While this type of addiction used to be associated with experienced drug users in the past, it is now known that anyone could develop an addiction to opioids due to the prevalence of prescriptions for pain medications that are opioid-based. Unfortunately, opioid stigma still exists, and it has a major impact on society as a whole since it stops people from being able to get the help they need to reach their full potential.

For some people, it is easy to dismiss opioid abuse as being someone else’s problem. However, no one can predict who might develop an addiction. Once you realize that it could be your child, neighbor, or even grandparent that develops an addiction to opioids, the importance of addressing the stigma becomes even more personal.

Understand the Impact of Shame

Public shaming has existed since the beginning of time, and there are benefits to encouraging people to make the right decisions. However, the opioid stigma does nothing to help the situation. When a person is stigmatized for their actions, they develop a sense of shame and guilt that prevents them from seeking treatment.

Reduced Access to Lifesaving Medication

Anyone who abuses opioids is at risk for experiencing a life-threatening overdose. While heroin is the most common culprit, it is also possible for someone to overdose on prescription painkillers if they take too many pills or take them more often than what is prescribed.

Naloxone is a groundbreaking medication that can be administered by anyone to someone who is experiencing an overdose. While this medication is available to anyone who requests it at a pharmacy, the stigma surrounding opioid abuse often keeps people from stepping forward to make sure that they have it nearby in case of an emergency.

Continued Substance Abuse

Shame and low self-worth are two major barriers that stop people from seeking treatment for their addiction. Those who are addicted to opioids may be afraid of how they will be viewed by others if they reveal their addiction. Due to the serious effects of opioid withdrawals, most people are unable to quit on their own, and being afraid to seek treatment prevents them from being able to take advantage of medications that help them to maintain their sobriety.

Do Your Part to End the Stigma

Confronting opioid stigmas is the only way to end the negative cycle of shame and guilt that makes it harder for people to seek treatment. In fact, eliminating the stigma has the potential to improve society as those who are treated for their addiction become capable of holding jobs, raising their family, and helping others to quit abusing opioids.

Share the Facts

Factual information helps to dispel the myths that keep the cycle of stigma going. Brush up on a few truths regarding opioid use, such as how prescription medications are now the leading drug associated with this type of addiction. Then, be sure to share these facts with people anytime you hear them speak a falsehood that spurs on the stigma.

Establish an Open Atmosphere Regarding Opioid Treatment

Stigmas are often rooted in silence and shame. For this reason, openness is a primary solution for confronting opioid stigmas. Tell others about the signs of opioid addiction and the different types of treatment options that are available today. If someone shares that they deal with addiction, offer them support as they work on getting sober.

When the stigma surrounding opioid abuse feels too huge to address, remember that it only takes a few small acts to generate tremendous change. By making sure that other people understand the truth about how prevalent addiction is, and offering assistance to anyone who struggles with an addiction, we can all do our part to end the negative effects that occur from stigmatizing people who use opioids.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse and recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.

Reach out to us today at 877-426-9117 to speak confidentially with an addiction counselor, or contact us online.