Eliminating the Stigma of Substance Abuse Disorders in Honor of Overdose Awareness Day
On August 31, we commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day to raise awareness of overdose and to help reduce the stigma associated with deaths due to drug abuse. It also acknowledges the grief loved ones face following the death of a loved one from an overdose.
The number of individuals dealing with substance use disorders continues to rise across our country. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 19.7 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2017.
“Thousands of people die each year from drug overdose, and they come from various backgrounds,” said Laura Auble, LCSW LCADC, CCS, Senior Program Director, Recovery Services. “we should recognize their substance use disorders and provide them with the help they need to get back to living a healthy, fulfilling life.”
A study from the Journal of Health and Social Behavior indicates that “stigma against those who are mentally ill and who abuse drugs can affect the wellbeing and treatment of these individuals. Labeling individuals as ‘addicts’ can also stigmatize them, making them feel that they are unworthy of or unable to obtain treatment and recovery. This can lead to them continuing to use drugs to the point that overdose becomes nearly inevitable, when it doesn’t have to be.”
If you know someone who is struggling with drug use, here are 5 ways to help he or she get the treatment needed:
1. Address the issue with them. Hiding it “under the rug” and ignoring there is a problem will not make the problem go away. Recognizing the individual is suffering and may need help is the first step in the process.
2. Provide support. Just letting the person know you are concerned and there for them is a good feeling. It may give them the incentive to get the help they require.
3. Make an appointment for help. Offer to make a counseling appointment and suggest going with them.
4. Get a comprehensive assessment. Individuals may have a co-occurring substance use and mental health disorder. Modern treatment is integrated which means clients can get help for both disorders at the same time.
5. Stay positive. Recovery is possible. Treatment works and is available even to those who don’t have insurance or the ability to pay.
Being there for your loved one is the most important thing. Our clinicians are available to help. Call our main number at 844-4-ACENDA (844-422-3632 x9500) for more information.