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Stigma

Discussion in 'General Substance Abuse Discussion' started by kana_marie, May 21, 2015.

  1. kana_marie

    kana_marie Community Champion

    Regardless of how open minded or how big their heart is, most people will talk about addicts like they're the scum of the earth (when they don't know I am in recovery). They'll say things like "once an addict always an addict. " "They will do or say whatever they can to try to get what they want". "Lazy" etc...
    That's some of the nicer things I've read or heard. When I tell them I'm one of them, they'll suddenly change their tune. But I still know that's how people really view us.
    How should i handle it when it happens? Should I shake my head, and shrug it off? Should I do what I've been doing... letting them know the truth and then watching them squirm a little bit?
  2. d4rk3n

    d4rk3n Active Contributor

    What you are doing is right. There is no point hiding the truth from them. They are the ignorant ones, not you. If there is someone who should change, its them. A normal guy doesn't know about the inner demons an addict fights everyday. They might sleep soundly at night, but they don't know the hardships an addict has to face while sleeping. Its not like we chose this life. Some of us were forced into it, and some had to give in because of problems. In the end, we are trying, and they should know that we are trying real hard just to live a 'normal' life.
    kana_marie likes this.
  3. kana_marie

    kana_marie Community Champion

    I felt the same way they do before I was an addict. Getting addicted was a horrible way to find out I was wrong.
  4. missbishi

    missbishi Community Champion

    This kind of behavior says far more about the people displaying it than it ever will about you so try not to let it bother you. We never truly know what people are going through so it's best not to try and judge without the facts.
  5. I'm going to play devil's advocate for just a minute and say that maybe they are saying those things initially because yes, they think that way about addict's. But they change their tune when you reveal the truth, NOT because they feel flustered/embarrassed/etc (although they probably do to an extent) but because suddenly their notion and idea of what an addict looks like, sounds like, and IS has been challenged. They see you and you don't fit whatever stereotype of an addict they have in their head and so they're force to retract their statements. I'm just trying to be an optimist here. I'm sure that for some people they probably are just lying to save face, but I think more often than we think people are actually quite understanding about some things, they just say stupid stuff.
  6. JohnBeaulieu

    JohnBeaulieu Community Champion

    Unfortunately this kind of reaction is rooted in a small but exaggerated truth. There are addicts that fit those unkind descriptions. It doesn't make the attitude right and it doesn't ring true for everyone. Prove them wrong. Show them that these things aren't true of every addict. People say stupid things at times, just don't make them right.
  7. Femiluv

    Femiluv Active Contributor

    I think a lot of people who have never dealt with addictions (personally, friends, or family) are under the impression that addictions are a sign of weakness. Just like how a lot of people think of mental health issues as a weakness, and a choice. The reality is that we're just human and people who struggle from addictions are no weaker than anyone else.
    JohnBeaulieu likes this.
  8. deanokat

    deanokat DrugAbuse.com Community Organizer Community Listener

    Well said, @allisonwinters. So many people have a preconceived notion of what an "addict" should look like. They don't realize that it could be their friend, or their neighbor, or the captain of the football team. I think the only way we can help break the stigma and stereotype of addiction is to be open and honest and share our stories. Then people may begin to realize that addiction can happen to anyone.
  9. imperivm1

    imperivm1 Community Champion

    Ignoring these remarks is probably the best course of action here. These people won't understand what you've had to go through no matter what you say to them. Their narrow-mindedness prevents them from seeing the true colors of life. Don't mind them. You have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself.
  10. LilAnn

    LilAnn Community Champion

    I believe the higher you hold your head up and the more confidence you show means they really will see that their stereotyping is misguided.
  11. gracer

    gracer Community Champion

    Stereotyping I guess is an everyday affair. People judge and are being judged in almost every aspect. Could it be human nature to be that way? Maybe. But then again, someone always gets hurt or offended in the process especially the one receiving the judgement. Sometimes some people could be so naive and insensitive towards what other people might feel when they give their opinions. I admit that sometimes I'm also the stereotype who talk first before thinking and I'm always feeling sorry afterwards because I know I might have offended someone. I've also been the one on the receiving end and it really hurts when you are being judged without even trying to know you first. The moral of the story could be that whichever side we're on (either the one who judges or the one being judged), let's not forget to be forgiving and understanding. That way, whatever remarks we have said or received would become points of learning rather than reasons for disagreement.
  12. CallipygianGamine

    CallipygianGamine Community Champion

    Dealing with stereotypes brings to mind a Jenny Holzer quote, “Being judgmental is a sign of life.” And I think if you can look someone in the eye who’s judging addicts and straight-up tell them, “I am/was an addict” that’s a sign of strength. Though sometimes it’s true that they’re simply uninformed rather than malicious, which is why it’s so important for people to be made aware that addiction can hit anyone. Some people just aren't aware of this.
  13. amethyst

    amethyst Community Champion

    You don't need to justify yourself to anyone. People will always talk and try to undermine others for very selfish reasons. If only they knew that everything they put out will eventually come around again. I would smile at them and wish them a happy day. Nothing is more effective in warding off unpleasant people than a strong, positive attitude that suggests success on every level. :) You don't have to concern yourself with the negativity of others. Focus on your path, your goals, your happiness, and all the good things that you want to achieve in your new, clean life. All that counts is that you are back on track again. :)
  14. pwarbi

    pwarbi Community Champion

    I think a persons confidence and self esteem will have a lot to do with it. Even if your an addict, ex addict or still going through recovery, I think if you have a good self opinion of yourself, it doesn't matter what other people say, it will just bounce off you.

    Some days it will be easier than others, and people can be hurtful with things they say, but at the end if the day, a lot if them couldn't walk 10 steps in your shoes, never mind a mile.
  15. sunflogun

    sunflogun Community Champion

    I do agree that there is a stigma, many times supported by the physical look that an ex-drug addict still has. That something we all have to deal with, but with our good actions we can change that perception and with time we will even look better physically.
  16. LilAnn

    LilAnn Community Champion

    I used to be judgmental about all kinds of people. I think everything Ive seen and been through is the reason I'm not anymore. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger... and less judgmental,
  17. Bonzer

    Bonzer Community Champion

    People get judgemental and jump to conclusions all the time. It's a natural tendency. Poking fun at others is a common perversion, though not all do the same. There are some intelligent people, who realize the life's vagaries and always extend a helping hand. So, just shake your head and shrug it off, the same thing you've been doing. People would eventually know your true potential.
  18. Tremmie

    Tremmie Community Champion

    Kana_marie, hello there! I learnt a long time ago that unless someone has gone (or is going) through the same experience as you, they won't just get it. No matter how much you explain it to them, some people just lack empathy and can't place themselves in your shoes, not even for a sec. Nothing you can do about it... same can be applied to this.

    So this being said, whenever someone says something like that about drug addicts... just ignore it. I do it all the time. I hate the stigma, specially once someone finds out you were a drug user... I have that problem with my sister, she and her new family probably think I'm still a junkie (I use that word because I know that is the word she uses the most when talking about me, lol). I honestly don't care.

    She is my half sister, but she is an awful person who never had something nice to say to me since I was a child, my drug addiction was just a excuse for her to treat me way worse. She is one of the persons to blame for the guilt and shame I still feel over the fact I was a victim of sexual abuse when I was a kid.

    So basically what I'm telling you can be resumed with this: Those who matter don't mind, those who mind don't matter. I just stay away from those who don't matter ;) Keep close to those who don't mind ;) Ignore the rude comments... stigma is something we need to learn to deal with. Don't let it affect you, their words DON'T define who you are.... you know yourself better than they ever will.
  19. kana_marie

    kana_marie Community Champion

    Wow! You just summed it all up in one small paragraph, and I love it! As for your sister, I e had to deal with people like that. I'm 3 years sober and they still call me junkie. According to my family I'm addicted to drugs I have never been anywhere near, lol. Heroine and crack are the big ones. That's one of the nicer things they have to say about me. :p
    Tremmie likes this.
  20. LilAnn

    LilAnn Community Champion

    I think it's horrible. Your families are the ones who are supposed to be there no matter what. My parents always taught me that family takes care of family.