Experts Say Stigma Stands in Way of Treating Addiction

By Staff Writer

Despite the fact that drug addiction is a mental illness that can only be addressed through help from rehab programs, many people still view addicts as having made a choice to become drugs abusers, and there is often less sympathy for these individuals than other mental illness sufferers.

Dr. Harold Hoplewicz, a child psychologist, wrote on the website of the Huffington Post that this discrimination is unjust and may hinder addicts’ efforts to overcome their addiction.

He said that the country has made significant progress in addressing other mental illnesses, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Where once these issues were considered taboo, it is now possible to have open and frank discussions of them. However, this is still not the case for addiction.

This stigma is unfounded. Drug use is often brought on by anxiety, depression or other mental illness, Hoplewicz wrote. However, treating addicts as if they had made a choice to become hooked on drugs makes it more difficult for them to find help from rehab programs.

The stigma faced by drug addiction can prevent users from seeking help, stop doctors from treating addiction and hinder the development of new drugs to treat the condition, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.