Breaking the Addiction Language Stigma: What You Can Do About It

Jan 29, 2020 8:00:00 AM / by Providence Recovery Services

Generally, addiction is known for compromising a life full of health for one that is entangled with negative, self-sabotaging experiences. At Providence Recovery, we understand a person who struggles with a substance use disorder (SUD) goes through many ups and downs when battling the disease. Most people don't want to be associated in a negative light - especially to be labeled an addict when they're trying their best to recover. 

Frequently, the stigma around addiction makes it worse for everyone involved due to a lack of information and knowledge about the topic at-hand. Let's find out more about the stigma of addiction and what you can do to minimize these adverse effects. 


Stigma is a socially discrediting behavior or condition. The degree of stigma correlates to the perceived cause of the condition and perceived control over the condition. 

Therefore, if a person has a substance use disorder and isn't able to stop drinking alcohol to the point of self-harm, some would argue that they are causing the addiction to happen continuously. Furthermore, due to the inability to stop consumption, they don't have control over the situation at hand. 

Both of these instances cause the stigma of addiction to be higher. 

First, you need to understand addiction. Addiction is a complex, chronic disease that causes a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, causing harm to themselves and those around them. When a person experiences addiction, they develop substance dependency, and it begins to change behaviors, mentality, appearance and more. 

The stigma of addiction is dominant, negative perceptions that can affect a person's self-esteem and damage relationships. When a person experiences shame, they get viewed as less than because of their real or perceived health status. Typically, stigmas are stereotypes based on assumptions or generalizations.

Derogatory labels like "alcoholic," "junkie," or "addict" can influence a person's thoughts, feelings and self-perception. It can significantly impact mental health and promote even more drug abuse to "numb the pain" of sorts. It may force a person to be more isolated and antisocial not to experience such harsh assumptions.

Here's the biggest problem of addiction stigma - it prevents people from getting the professional and medical help they need and deserve. 


You know the primary problem, and our team has the solution. Encourage your loved one to reach out and get help. 

First and foremost, it's essential to get educated. Do your research to find the right recovery program for your loved one with SUD. Learn about the disorder and how it works to understand the best next steps

Also, American Addiction Centers suggests the following useful tips to help reduce stigma:

  • Lend support.
  • Practice kindness to people in vulnerable situations.
  • Listen and withhold judgment.
  • View someone for who they are, not for what they do (such as what drugs they use).
  • Treat people with dignity and respect.
  • Avoid saying offensive labels.
  • Focus on evidence-based facts when speaking with someone instead of a negative attitude.
  • Speak up when you see mistreatment because of a person's drug use.
  • Share your own stories of stigma.

Another step towards breaking addiction stigma is enrolling your loved one in addiction treatment. Once your loved one decides addiction treatment should be a core component in their life, they make it possible to enjoy a new and sober life. 

Providence Recovery offers components in their program including, but not limited to:

  • Cognitive Behavioral TherapyGroup therapy
  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Trauma-Informed Care
  • Individual Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Equine Therapy


Be mindful of the words you choose to say, especially to a person who is struggling with addiction. Support, kindness and being a good listener can go a long way. 

Don't hesitate to get the addiction treatment help that's needed. Providence Recovery is an addiction treatment program for men and women, located in Craig, Colorado. Our programs are designed to encourage positive and lasting recovery with a full continuum of care.

Let us help your loved one get back to a life they like.


Tags: Substance Use Disorder, Addiction Treatment, Stigma

Providence Recovery Services

Written by Providence Recovery Services

At Providence Recovery, we are a patient-centered addiction treatment facility located in Craig, Colorado striving to make an effort to empower our patients.