The biggest obstacle to people with alcoholism getting the treatment they need is the social stigma surrounding the disease. According to research, nine out of ten people with addiction issues reported experiencing discrimination at some point in their lives and although our understanding of the disease is greater these days, many people still cling to out-dated misconceptions that serve as a deterrent to those needing treatment at an alcohol rehab center from receiving it.
Many people wrongly believe that alcoholism is the lifestyle choice of someone with poor morals and see it as a sign of weakness. It is not unusual to hear people making references to a drinker by calling them a ‘wino’ or making assumptions about how they live their lives. This is because these attitudes have become so ingrained in our society. For this reason, it is important to raise awareness of addiction as a disease of the brain in order to improve public perception and remove social stigma.
What Are the Effects of Stigma About Alcoholism?
Whatever the attitudes and perceived stigma society holds towards alcoholism, the effects on someone with the disease are very real and including the following:
- Discrimination and shame which causes people to mask their illness
- Withdrawal and isolation
- Unwillingness to seek help for fear of harsh judgment of others
- Loss of a job and exclusion from the family
- Insurance companies have the right to refuse payments for alcoholics
- Families can be included in the stigma surrounding an addicted loved one
- Heightened stress and social problems with partners and children
How to Cope With the Stigma of Alcoholism
There are several ways someone with alcoholism can cope with the negative attitudes and perceptions of others. Ultimately the first step is the acceptance that they have an illness that is treatable and beyond their control. By removing the blame from the sufferer’s shoulders, they can start to better understand the nature of their disease.
No matter what the opinions of others suggest, alcoholism is not a choice.
Individual and group therapy can be a huge support for alcoholics when someone returns to their daily lives after attending an alcohol treatment center. Knowing there are others on hand who fully appreciate and understand the nature of alcoholism and have most probably walked the walk themselves is a considerable boost to confidence and motivation for someone in recovery. A support network allows recovering alcoholics to form close bonds with people they know will not judge them and who are unconcerned by the attitudes of others, which can be extremely empowering for someone in recovery from addiction.
The Positive Benefits of Alcohol Rehab Centers
Social stigma is largely based on ignorance about alcoholism as a disease although someone struggling with it can feel as though they are under the negative scrutiny of others. An alcohol treatment center provides a non-judgmental environment where a patient often finds themselves understood for the first time in their lives. Such is the depth of stigma surrounding alcoholism that it makes it very difficult for many people with a drinking problem or alcohol dependency to reach out to clinical facilities for the treatment they so badly need.
A more adverse effect of stigma is that it can deepen someone’s compulsion to drink, as they become more and more detached from others for fear of being misunderstood or challenged. A problem drinker can soon become an alcoholic unless they accept they have a problem and if others are constantly judging their behavior, the likelihood of achieving them accepting their illness is restricted. Entering into a controlled environment where there are medical professionals on hand to guide and motivate patients through rehab is often the lifeline people with alcoholism badly need.
Alcohol treatment centers are invaluable in bringing relief to patients suffering from alcoholism, mainly because they become aware of what is wrong with them. They also learn that there is a future beyond the facility and one that they can fully participate in, finally free of addiction. Addiction treatment contributes to boosting self-esteem and learning techniques to overcome destructive through patterns that can sometimes lead to relapse in recovery.