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Fighting the Stigma of Addiction

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stigma of addiction

Chronic pain sufferers depend upon pain medications, primarily opiates, to alleviate their discomfort. These are important and valuable medications when legally prescribed and taken as directed.
However, dependence can begin quickly, meaning the body needs the drugs even though they aren’t necessary for pain relief.  Sometimes, dependence is an unexpected outcome or self-medication to relieve anxiety, stress, or other emotional issues. As a result, the drug-dependent person may buy unregulated opiates of unknown quality from the streets.
Two common questions are: 
(1) “Why do people who suffer from opiate dependence not seek help right away?
(2) ”Why do they deny the problem or try to hide it?”
The answers are straightforward.  Detoxing from opiates could be more dangerous than using opiates.  Unsupervised detox in a non-medical setting can be excruciatingly painful, lengthy, and medically dangerous for some patients.  Even admitting the need for treatment for opiate dependence can have immediate negative consequences. “Seeking help can mean losing a job and medical insurance,” stated noted researcher David L. Rosenbloom, Ph.D., “or even losing your child when a social service agency declares you an unfit parent because you have a drug problem.”
Sadly, Americans have significant tolerance for other issues, such as alcoholism. At the same time, they offer little or no sympathy for someone with the medical condition of opiate dependence. This is because many do not view opiate dependence as a medical condition. Thus, the person who is dependent upon opiates is often shamed and marginalized for being a “drug addict.” According to the National Treatment Plan Initiative recently released by the U.S. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), stigma can “cause ostracism, shame, and even denial of life’s necessities, such as employment and a place to live.”

The Difference between Drug Addiction and Dependence

Opiate Dependence is a medical condition that should be treated by doctors.

Much of society is still in the “age of ignorance” about drug dependence and addiction. They mistakenly equate dependence with a lack of morals or integrity. In truth, the person with opiate dependence has a medical condition that needs medical treatment.  As with all chronic medical conditions, reading a book or attending a meeting may be emotionally supportive, not medical treatment.  Henceforth, a true diagnosis and the appropriate medical treatment comes from trained medical professionals.
On the other hand, addiction is the psychological aspect resulting from opiate abuse. Addiction can be characterized by intense psychological cravings, changes in personality, and drug-seeking behavior. A person can be both physically dependent and addicted to opiates. Furthermore, not everyone who takes opiates long term becomes addicted.
In either case, medical treatment is the required first step. We must recognize that drug dependence is not a weakness or character flaw. We all want to be thought of as strong and dependable. If a friend or a family member needs medical help to overcome opioid dependence, we hope they can count upon you to be as supportive and loving as you would be if they had any other medical condition. Effective medical treatment and complete detoxification from opiates is currently available and performed by trained medical professionals. Waismann Method® has been on the forefront of medical opiate detoxification since the late 1990s, in its one exclusive location, based in So. California. At the Waismann, patients’ safety, dignity, and comfort are always our priority.

For a completely confidential consultation, call 1-800-423-2482


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