People in US aware of opioid epidemic but still stuck in stigma, survey suggests

People in US aware of opioid epidemic but still stuck in stigma, survey suggests

With federal authorities announcing major steps and reforms to curb the opioid crisis in the United States, more people are becoming aware of the extent of damage these legally available drugs can cause. Owing to the growing awareness about the causes, effects and treatments for opioid use disorder, people have started paying attention to updates and notices related to prescription opioid abuse in the country.

However, the knowledge has divided people into two sections, with a majority of them still blaming those using painkillers for the spread of the epidemic. Some also blame it on the doctors prescribing excessive opioids. According to a report by Mental Health First Aid, two-thirds of Americans agree that with the growing threat of opioid epidemic, an individual with a substance use disorder is considered to be “weak willed” and there are chances that a person with a mental illness would become violent. As a result, a significant 85 percent people also believe that increasing access to addiction treatment programs would be an effective response.

However, these beliefs are disappointing for the authorities, who feel that blaming people to be contributing significantly to the surge in opioid epidemic in the country is disheartening, especially in the light of the efforts made to demystify the facts about mental disorder. More so, as attitude reflects the breeding of stigma and taboos that have remained associated with mental health conditions and substance abuse problems since ages.

Stigma associated with addiction

Mental health and substance abuse problems are not new to society. These problems have prevailed since the history of mankind. In the ancient era, while mental health conditions and addiction were seen as a curse, being possessed by evil, and burden of past life. The victims were looked down upon as a faulty lifestyle of low stature, poor upbringing and lineage. However, with time and evolution, science has been successful in establishing facts and theories that defined mental disorders and addiction as a medical condition and remotely associated with an individual’s character or lifestyle.

Sadly, the development in science could not change the mindset of the people. People continue to believe the ancient myths and misconceptions that designated substance abuse a derogatory status. These associated stigmas not only harmed the individuals in terms of losing social respect and acceptance, but also kept them away from seeking medical help or accepting their condition.

Today, even though there might be a noticeable change in the thinking of the people, the concerns are not yet completely stigma-free. In fact, the existence of stigma (even if in relatively less proportion), is enough to prevent people from adopting the right approach when experiencing either of the conditions.

Road to recovery

With such close encounters with abuse of either of the substances, the need of the hour is to dispel the negative stereotype and seeking medical help be encouraged. It is important to understand that substance abuse is a medical condition and can occur due to factors like genetic predisposition, side of effect of medication and environmental stressors. It is similar to any other physical condition that has a cause, effect and treatment.

Fortunately, addiction can be treated by medical intervention. It is important to have a clinical assessment to determine the type, severity and its duration accurately, as identifying the concern on the basis of symptoms alone, can be misleading. The details of the medical diagnosis further helps in deciding the most effective treatment method. Problems of substance abuse can be treated with medication, therapy or a combination of both, depending on the status of its existence.

If you or a loved one is suffering from dependence on prescription drug or any other substance, seek help from the Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 738-2770 or chat online with our experts to know about the best prescription drug rehab centers in California.