Reducing the Stigma Around Addiction and Substance Misuse
Do you or someone you love struggle with substance misuse? It’s okay to admit you need help. Addiction is one of the pressing health concerns in Hancock County, and our Healthy365 Support Navigators are here to offer a confidential listening ear and support without judgment.
What is substance misuse?
The American Psychiatric Association defines substance use disorder (SUD) as “a complex condition in which there is uncontrolled use of a substance despite harmful consequences.” People with an SUD have such an intense focus on using a certain substance or substances that their day-to-day function is inhibited. When someone’s SUD becomes extremely severe, it is sometimes called an addiction.
Individuals with an SUD will likely develop distorted thinking and behaviors, and the actual structure and function of the brain are changed to cause intense cravings, changes in personality, altered decision making and more. And yet, in a 2018 study from the The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, just 53% of Americans surveyed see addiction as a medical problem.
How common is addiction?
According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health 40.3 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder (SUD) in the past year, including 28.3 million who had alcohol use disorder, 18.4 million who had an illicit drug use disorder, and 6.5 million people suffering from both. In the same AP-NORC survey from 2018, fewer than 1 in 5 Americans are willing to closely associate with someone suffering with drug addiction.
Learning more about substance misuse
In order to help someone you know struggling with substance misuse, one of the most effective things you can do is educate yourself. Be aware of the unconscious and conscious stigma that goes along with substance misuse.
If you are in the field of healthcare, it is especially important to leave your biases at the door and treat each patient fairly. Some providers see SUD as the fault of the person suffering, and some offices will even eject patients showing signs of intoxication or withdrawal for fear of their behavior or desire for prescription medication. If you do not work in healthcare, you can still advocate for fair treatment for those with SUD in healthcare settings and by educating yourself about the signs of addiction.
Knowing the signs of addition to show compassion
Identifying the signs of addiction in a loved one can allow you to show them compassion, talk about ways to alleviate their suffering and find solutions by partnering in the healing process. The most common signs of addiction include:
- Loss of control; engaging in behavior more or for longer than intended
- Neglecting family, friends, and other interests
- Decreased attendance or performance at work or school
- Relationship and anger issues
- Secrecy, including unexplained injuries or accidents
- Changing appearance: especially a serious decrease in cleanliness or hygiene
- Family history of addiction
- Tolerance; getting less of a reaction from the same amount of a substance or behavior
- Withdrawal; physical symptoms experienced when substances wear off
- Continued use despite negative consequences
Additional signs of alcohol misuse can include blackouts or temporary memory loss, irritability, depression, or mood swings, unpleasant symptoms when one stops drinking: headache, anxiety, insomnia, or nausea, and drinking alone or in secret.
Ways to get help for substance misuse
If you notice the signs of addiction or alcohol misuse in yourself or others, organizations like Healthy365 can offer support and connections to treatment options. Most treatment approaches for substance misuse include three main phases: detoxification, counseling and aftercare support. The best treatment for you or your family member will vary depending on the specifics of the addiction and life situation.
A few of the program types available locally include residential, outpatient, dual-diagnosis centers for patients with mental health problems as well as addiction, as well as specific centers for teens or women. And for those family members being impacted by a loved one’s addiction, our CRAFT Support Group at Healthy365 can offer compassionate education and motivation.
If you need support for substance misuse in yourself or someone you know, contact a Healthy365 Support Navigator today at (317) 468- 4231 or visit the Connection Center at 120 W. McKenzie Rd., Suite G in Greenfield.