Reducing the Stigma of Addiction and Recovery in Healthcare Still Needed

Most people would consider that admitting one has an addiction, getting through the difficult withdrawal symptoms and addressing the problems in life that drugs provided an escape from are the hardest parts about achieving sobriety. They may not be wrong, but a another problem that faces those who are newly sober is the judgment they receive when they have to explain that they have struggled with addiction in the past.

For the most part, once a person achieves sobriety they can go about their life as normal. However, there are some changes they may have to make and there are some precautions they have to take. One of the biggest safety nets a former addict can put in place for themselves is letting their physician know that they have been addicted to drugs in the past. This allows an open dialogue between the doctor and the patient and helps the doctor to keep from prescribing substances with a high potential for abuse as a form of treatment.

Unfortunately, some addicts realize that as soon as they open up to their doctor they are getting judged. The mood changes and the patient is now being negatively regarded as an addict. “As soon as you say you struggle with addiction, the look on (the provider’s) face changes. It’s so discouraging. You feel so judged. It’s no wonder people give up and just self-medicate,” explained Shay Barber, a former addict.

Not only can there be judgment in the doctor’s office but former addicts face the stigma of addiction all the time. Meeting someone new for the first time and having to explain why you don’t drink. Going to family gatherings and being around people who drink and may even use drugs, the questioning looks you receive from family members or friends if life isn’t going well – these are all things that an addict can struggle with even after they have gotten clean, but they shouldn’t have to deal with that same judgment in the doctor’s office.

Some clinics are reportedly recognizing this unfairness and are beginning to cater to those who have struggled with addiction in the past. Their policy is simple – no judgment. Former addicts are finally able to care for themselves in an environment that promotes health and honesty along with supporting recovery.