Science has proven that substance use disorder (addiction) is a chronic brain disease that can be managed with medical treatment. It is NOT a moral failing or a character flaw. But still, only 1 in 10 Americans with a substance use disorder receive treatment. Addiction is highly stigmatized, and that stigma is fueling an American public health crisis.
Mental health conditions and suicide are also issues surrounded by stigma. Mental health conditions are the leading cause of disability across the United States, with suicide currently the second leading cause of death of youth ages 15-24, and the tenth leading cause of death for all Americans. However, less than half of the adults in the U.S. who need services and treatment get the help they need, even though most people with mental health issues can be successfully treated.
The isolation, blame, and secrecy that is often encouraged by stigma can create huge challenges to reaching out, getting needed support, and living well. So when we talk about the harmful effects of stigma, and stigmatizing language, it’s not about being sensitive, or politically correct. It’s about treatment, care, and saving lives.
Resources are available in the UP to assist people with Substance Use Disorder or mental health conditions. You can find resources for Substance Use Disorder here. You can find resources for mental health and suicide here.