At the mention of a substance addict, some of us are inclined to create an image of a homeless filthy looking person who “deserved what (s)he got.” Disregarding their mental, childhood or family problems and directly putting negative labels on them will likely only carry them to the deep end.
Imagine you have lost control of yourself: Your brain has become your worst enemy, turning each day to a vicious battle of its own. Subsequently, you isolate yourself from your surroundings, disassociate from your profession or schoolwork and gradually lose more support and motivation. According to the addiction treatment center MARR, these are the most common behavioral signs of addiction.
What do you need the most in this situation?
Or, should we reframe the question, what do you need the least in this situation?
Although addicts aren’t always innocent people, the society to beat up an individual who’s already defeated by him/herself does not sound moral, does it? Doing so denies their ability to change for the better and traps them into a negative and powerless self-image.
As the author and Sociology professor James M. Henslin underlined in his textbook “Essentials of Sociology,” society’s judgment and labels close doors of opportunity to the labeled groups. In fact, it pushes them to similarly labeled groups where they will be engaging in such activities even more.
Instead of labeling, a support system to be faithful to is demanded. According to the US National Library of Medicine, the most successful technique for recovery is implementing faith in Religion and Spirituality. NLM suggests that these two (either or both) make up 73% of addiction treatment programs in the USA and play a remarkable role in providing the needed power and assistance to these individuals, relieving them from society’s negative judgments.
How can we as a society stop slowing down the recovery process for addicts?
Big changes come in small volumes.
Parents and the social circle around the kid lay the foundation for his/her future behaviors, as supported by the Clinical Psychologist Dr. Dhar. Thus, unreasoned and uneducated judgments towards addicts should be avoided by the parents to set a proper example for the child.
If parents label a substance addict as filthy, worthless or weak, they’ll cause their kids to adopt a similar judgment towards substance addicts. And if they ever get involved in these, they will likely believe that they’re filthy, worthless or weak right from the beginning.
Even when they can turn back and recover in a less painful way, positive and uplifting emotions will already be absent within them because their parents will be telling them from a young age that there’s no turning back and that once you deviate you are worthless, unsupported.
Through our labels and judgments, we trap substance addicts in a cycle of relapse and feed them hundreds of reasons to give up when faith and support may be enough to recover them.