Even with the proliferation of treatment facilities and 12-step programs over the past few decades, the stigmas attached to alcoholics and drug addicts continue to persist. In fact, a recent study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology presents abundant proof that addicts are often shunned due to stigmatization. The study further explores how more than 60% of the addicts surveyed did not seek treatment due to the fear of being stigmatized.
To avoid being stigmatized, you can choose to exercise anonymity. You can deny the insinuations about addicts that come up in conversation – or you can expound on examples of the people you know who don’t fit the stereotypes. Since it’s been said that actions speak louder than words, why not include a few stigma-busting New Year’s resolutions in your list to call these stereotypes into question:
1) Stigma: Alcoholics either throw up or throw a lampshade and ruin your party.
Resolution: Stay under the radar at parties and public events for a while. If you’re an irrepressible extrovert, let the pendulum swing in the other direction. Be subdued, polite and fully present. People will notice the shift and the stigma will start to lose its grip.
2) Stigma: Alcoholics never show up on time, if they show up at all.
Resolution: Show up at least 10 minutes early for appointments – even informal ones with friends and family. If the appointment is set for 11 o’clock, put 10:50 in your calendar. Make “on time” a mindset.
3) Stigma: Alcoholics and addicts can’t be counted on.
Resolution: Don’t make promises unless you are certain you can keep them. Don’t take on projects that are unappealing to you unless you absolutely have to. And do make commitments and promises from time to time to show you can keep them.
While actions like these may not completely erase the stigmas associated with drug addiction and alcoholism altogether, they may set you free from the stereotypes.