SURVEY: Self Stigma and Addiction
If you’ve read just about any of my blog, by now you’ve probably noticed that one of my biggest concerns is that drug users have a tendency to start believing all the negative stereotypes and stigma that society has decided to put on drug users and addicts. It’s not right. It’s not accurate. It’s harming to users and their families. And it perpetuates the negative realities of drug use. Users who already have a low self-esteem are more prone to believe these labels and it increase their feelings of self-doubt and self-worth. It’s damaging to the user, the addict, their families and society as a whole. It creates violence, bullying, self-harm, criminal activity, lack of productivity and it needs to be done away with. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And no headway will ever be made in dealing with the problems surrounding drug use if it’s not done away with. It’s the result of a lack of proper education, blind faith in government propaganda and fear of things and people that are different than the norm.
Thankfully, someone is at least acknowledging this problem. This is a survey for addicts of all substances, including alcoholic, and how they perceive themselves and societies attitude towards them. I hope that every user or addict who sees this takes this survey. At least it’s a start to a change. (The link is at the top if you are looking for it.)
My hope is that all drug users and addicts begin to realize that they are not worthless. You are just as valuable as your straight neighbors. You have just as much to offer society. I know that many people start using as an escape from pre-existing feelings of self-doubt. But those feelings don’t have to continue. Addiction is never fun, but it is not a representation of your self-worth. A drug does not define who you are. Addiction comes with its own set of problems, believe me – I know that. But it never, ever determines who you are or what you can be. If we start to believe all of the negativity, we’ll just be perpetuating the stigma and we’ll never make any headway towards fighting discrimination. Heroin does not make people do all the bad things that society believes all users do. Desperation causes those things. Prohibition and a punitive system designed to brand, penalize, segregate and guarantee that that an addict can never fully assimilate into normal society cause those things. Lack of concern or empathy from an uneducated public cause those things. The desire to remove anyone who differs from “normal” people cause those things. Judgment based inaccurate facts and downright lies cause those things. Because we weren’t content to believe what we were told and wanted to see for ourselves what the big deal was, because we questioned authority, this is our punishment. But it doesn’t have to be this way. My hope is that my fellow addicts can see the value in yourself. And I hope you have a support structure to validate your existence when you’re not feeling so sure about yourself. Addiction is hard enough, it can suck all the energy out of you. But if can get better.
No matter what side you are on, I hope we call all realize that there really isn’t that much difference between us. We’re all value, lovable, creative, worthwhile human beings who have simply made different choices in life. Sometimes that difference is small as having a fear of needles or not. But differences are what make us unique. Just because most people are one way, doesn’t make it the right way. And it certainly doesn’t make the minority evil. It just makes them different. But if straight people continue to judge and discriminate without empathy or education, and addicts continue to disrespect and hurt those around them by steeling and lying, nothing will change. The change starts with each individual. We have to be the change we want to see in the world. It may seem like your efforts are insignificant, but these things take decades to change.
Please, if you’re an addict or a user or in recovery, take this survey. If nothing else, it will give you something to think about.