November is Addictions Awareness Month

By Lucie Martin

Posted on Thursday, November 9, 2017


Addiction is a complex disorder and can be influenced by genetic, social, psychological and environmental factors. It includes one or more of the following behaviours; lack of control over drug use, compulsive drug-seeking behavior, cravings and continuous use despite the harm that the drug is causing. People use substances to alter the way they feel, although the reasons vary depending on the situation and/or the individual. The cause of substance abuse varies. Over the years, we have come to understand that there are several reasons why someone may use substances excessively. It is important to recognize that addictions are not only due to “moral failings” as once thought, but are more linked to an individual’s genetics, environmental factors and personal coping skills. Recognizing that people don’t set out to become dependent on substances and often need professional help to stop the vicious cycle.

Stigma is defined as “A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person” (Oxford Online Dictionaries, 2010). Stigma manifests itself through unfavoUrable attitudes and negative behaviours. Often times these are displayed through our biases/prejudices, fears or stereotypes which can lead to acts of discrimination, gossip, jokes, anger, embarrassment and even verbal abuse. To make things worse if you yourself have ever witnessed these types of behaviors or actions, you may start to self-stigmatize by internalizing those negative attitudes about your own condition. This may lead you to believe that others will view you in the same respect and you may begin to distrust and find yourself unworthy of the care and attention you need. Again placing a barrier upon seeking professional help. We as a society can have a huge impact on those who suffer from this affliction. Recognizing that stigma not only affects people when they are ill but it can also impact them in seeking treatment when they need it or even during their recovery process.

Here are just a few tips that you can do to start to reduce stigma:
1. Know the facts about substance use – Understanding and humanizing those who struggle daily with an addiction. Learn what can bring it on; who is more likely to develop problems; and how to prevent or reduce the severity of the issue. Learn the facts instead of the myths.

2. Be aware of your attitudes and behavior – we have all grown up with prejudices and judgmental thinking, which are passed on by society and reinforced by family, friends and the media. Recognize that we can change the way we think. Try to see people as unique human beings, not as labels or stereotypes.

3. Choose your words carefully – the way we speak can affect the way other people think and speak. Use accurate and sensitive words when talking about people with substance use problems. Addiction is a complex disorder and can be influenced by genetic, social, psychological and environmental factors. It includes one or more of the following behaviours; lack of control over drug use, compulsive drug-seeking behavior, cravings and continuous use despite the harm that the drug is causing. People use substances to alter the way they feel, although the reasons vary depending on the situation and/or the individual. The cause of substance abuse varies. Over the years, we have come to understand that there are several reasons why someone may use substances excessively. It is important to recognize that addictions are not only due to “moral failings” as once thought, but are more linked to an individual’s genetics, environmental factors and personal coping skills. Recognizing that people don’t set out to become dependent on substances and often need professional help to stop the vicious cycle.

Stigma is defined as “A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person” (Oxford Online Dictionaries, 2010). Stigma manifests itself through unfavoUrable attitudes and negative behaviours. Often times these are displayed through our biases/prejudices, fears or stereotypes which can lead to acts of discrimination, gossip, jokes, anger, embarrassment and even verbal abuse. To make things worse if you yourself have ever witnessed these types of behaviors or actions, you may start to self-stigmatize by internalizing those negative attitudes about your own condition. This may lead you to believe that others will view you in the same respect and you may begin to distrust and find yourself unworthy of the care and attention you need. Again placing a barrier upon seeking professional help. We as a society can have a huge impact on those who suffer from this affliction. Recognizing that stigma not only affects people when they are ill but it can also impact them in seeking treatment when they need it or even during their recovery process.

Here are just a few tips that you can do to start to reduce stigma:
1. Know the facts about substance use – Understanding and humanizing those who struggle daily with an addiction. Learn what can bring it on; who is more likely to develop problems; and how to prevent or reduce the severity of the issue. Learn the facts instead of the myths.

2. Be aware of your attitudes and behavior – we have all grown up with prejudices and judgmental thinking, which are passed on by society and reinforced by family, friends and the media. Recognize that we can change the way we think. Try to see people as unique human beings, not as labels or stereotypes.

3. Choose your words carefully – the way we speak can affect the way other people think and speak. Use accurate and sensitive words when talking about people with substance use problems.