What Living Under the Stigma of Addiction is Like

At Olympia House, we understand that one of the greatest problems our patients face is the far-reaching cultural misunderstanding and stigma of addiction. In America alone, over 20 million people over the age of twelve are addicted to one or more substances including opioids, alcohol, or methamphetamines. Yet, those struggling with addiction often feel the most alone in their situation. We understand that addiction is not just about cravings, but about a cycle of shame. The presence of love, respect, and understanding are deep requirements for happiness, wholeness, and joy. However, one might feel admitting their addiction will lead to a loss of these critical emotional needs. It seems easier to hide the addiction and attempt to quit yourself, but the pain of loneliness this creates can often only make cravings worse. To fight losing respect, one may find themselves hiding things from loved ones, only to further rupture those relationships when the real motivation of shame is not understood. At Olympia house, we deeply respect the inner reserves of strength we believe every person has to fight addiction. We want to provide an open, understanding community that will allow you to end the stigma of addiction. We strive to make you feel safe, informed, and seen as your true self. We know and have seen that these values are, in themselves, some of the most powerful tools against addiction.

The Disease of Addiction: How the Stigma of Addiction Comes About

Where does the stigma of addiction come from? The shame surrounding addiction is related mainly to misinformation. Many people believe that those with addiction abuse their free will and chose to take drugs. Those with substance use disorder may then come to think addiction is something wrong with themselves, calling themselves drunks, addicts, or even junkies. What is misunderstood here is that those with addiction are free individuals who are worthy of respect.

They are able to fight their own battles and pursue their own futures. However, their ability to assert themselves is greatly challenged by the makeup of addiction, much like trying to walk around with a ball and chain. Though a person with addiction may not be feeling strong enough to hold against the huge weight of cravings, cues, and emotional/physical pain—the part that makes addiction a disease— the choice to get help in an environment that strengthens them against these forces is one always made freely. We know that you or your loved one made this choice by deciding to get help. We would be privileged to help get you the resources you need to rediscover your autonomy.

What We Believe About the Stigma of Addiction

We believe that addiction is never just about substances. We understand that a large system comes into play with any one case of addiction. This includes co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, and comorbid diseases such as HIV / AIDS, cancer, and chronic pain. It may also include unresolved traumas and other deeply impactful experiences. Finally, we understand that genetic makeup is one of the leading causes as to why anybody may be prone to addiction. We know the best way toward recovery from addiction is to be understanding and address the symptoms while focusing on resolving and rehabilitating the causes that started the addiction to begin with.

Understanding the Science of Addiction For a Full Recovery

Understanding addiction is the best way to end the stigma of addiction. Olympia house prides itself on its evidence-based approach, and part of our practice is helping you understand the factors of addiction for yourself. Science supports two theories—that addiction is greatly environmental, and that addiction is based on structural and chemical changes in the human brain.

First, addiction usually begins due to social pressures or emotional pain. Often times these two factors are symptoms of the environment the person has found themselves in. A painful personal life that feels broken and consistently impacts the person is one of the main driving factors that initiate the cycle of addiction.

Secondly, another cause that may occur with or without an emotional painful environment is social pressure. As we stated, love, community, and support are deep human desires. When the ticket to friendship, love, or community seems to be taking substances, this can be one of the first ways addictive substances are discovered. When that community consistently impacts the person by keeping that pressure on them to consume the substance, addiction is highly probable. Even if someone with addiction leaves a circle or personal environment that enforces addiction, they always fight cues in healthy environments that remind them of these substances.

Temporal Discounting in the Process of Addiction

Secondly, addiction may be influenced by a concept called temporal discounting. This is when the desire to get what one wants as soon as possible overrides the desire to get what one wants for themselves over the long run even if some time is needed. Many people’s brains are born with more wiring that favors temporal discounting. This type of thinking was great in survival environments in the past when human beings needed to take immediate action to secure food, sex, or other necessary and pleasurable resources. However, in today’s society, this same thinking has become problematic in the context of addiction. With the right psychological tools and dedication, temporal discounting can be rehabilitated. Please click here for even more of Olympia House’s information on understanding addiction.

How We’re Healing the Stigma of Addiction

We understand the huge impact environment, stigma, and genetic factors have on addiction. We believe in your free will to get help. We always believe you are an autonomous person fighting against chemical handcuffs and environmental giants that are too exhausting for anybody to fight alone. We know that you are asserting your autonomy by getting help. We provide help in three ways;

We know getting help can seem dark, frightening and distant. But here at Olympia House, we want to show you the inspiring, powerful experience stepping through the illusion of hopelessness can be. Let’s get your journey started for you or a loved one. Don’t wait another minute. Call Olympia House to begin your recovery at one of the locations near you at (888) 795-1965.