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When We Internalize Cultural Bias Against Addicts

For those of us struggling with addiction, one of the challenges we face is how to handle all of the cultural stereotyping, misinformation, hatred and apathy surrounding addiction and addicts. We see it on a regular basis, everywhere around us, and we’re sometimes on the receiving end of it. We might have lost friendships because of our problems with addiction. We might have felt people looking down on us. We find a negative bias towards addicts in our communities, and in our families, even those of us whose families are consumed by addiction. Over time, we can internalize this bias and start to believe it for ourselves. It contributes to our own insecurity and self-rejection. It makes us hate ourselves. It also can make us turn on other people who are struggling with addiction, and we can lose our ability to empathize with them and feel compassion towards them.

Addiction is such an overwhelming and debilitating illness, with so much stigma and shame surrounding it that we often don’t want to believe we’re in its clutches, like the other addicts we see around us. We don’t want to believe that we’ve fallen to the same lows as the people we see on the street, homeless and begging for money. We look down on other people whose addictions have gotten the better of them, and we think we’re much better off if we’re still able to function. Perhaps we don’t exhibit some of the same patterns we associate with addiction – financial hardship, hostility when we use, belligerence, inability to hold a job. We might think that because we’re able to pay our rent and go to work, we’re not addicts in the true sense of the word. We think of ourselves as highly-functioning and therefore separate from, and superior to, other addicts. We may look down on addicts, judge and condemn them.

Addiction Does Not Discriminate

Any of us can fall victim to it- whether our issues are financial, emotional, mental, behavioral, or any combination thereof, we’re all struggling with the same illness, an illness that takes over people’s lives and that can be all-consuming. It is an illness that robs us of our health, our stability, our relationships, our entire lives. There is no better kind of addict, no easier kind of addiction. We’re all suffering in different ways, some of us more visibly than others, others of us suppressing our suffering and hiding it from the world.

Part of addressing our own problems with addiction is looking at the ways in which we’ve internalized cultural bias around addiction that might be preventing us from healing. We might be rejecting ourselves and self-destructing out of self-hatred, and/or we might be judging other people, thinking we’re above needing help to recover. Either way, we can be sabotaging our own recovery with this internalized bias, and it’s important to address it so that we can move forward and truly heal ourselves.

At The Guest House Ocala, we have personal recovery experience and over 12 years in the recovery industry. We have helped countless people recover, and we’re here to help you too. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.