America’s decision to wage a war on drugs may have inadvertently contributed to the stigma of addiction, but change is happening.
It’s no surprise to anyone that the war on drugs will end with no clear winner. In fact, all sides seem to have lost in this drawn-out battle that was waged against those struggling with addiction as much as it was against the drug traffickers and suppliers. The crackdown, meant to reduce drug use in the US, may have also added to the negative stigma associated with addiction and mental illness.
Decades after the war was launched, healthcare professionals continue to rally for a shift in focus from punishment to treatment. It finally looks like it’s working. The White House recently announced its intention to move away from the war on drugs and toward the treatment of addiction as a disease. Of course, that’s easy to say and harder to actually do. That’s why healthcare professionals continue to call for more action to be taken regarding the de-stigmatization of mental illness.
Experts know that a very high percentage of substance abuse cases are rooted in self-medication of mental illnesses. Depression, personality disorders and anxiety are among those illnesses believed to be the underlying causes of numerous addictions. It’s because of this that a large number of healthcare pros want efforts to focus more on treating mental illness. After all, if we address the mental health issues that lead many to seek out substances to abuse – usually in an attempt to numb unwanted feelings or cope with symptoms – then in treating mental illness, we will also be addressing the problem of substance abuse.
In order to do this, we need to truly accept that addiction and mental illness are chronic diseases just like heart disease or diabetes. We need to make treatment widely available and take away any shame in admitting the problem in the first place. No one would avoid seeking treatment for cancer for fear of being blamed for their illness or the stigma attached to it. Most experts suggest we do this through both education and legislation. We need to educate the public and then help them see how they can use their power to influence policy and funding in these areas.
Addiction and Mental Health Treatment at La Paloma
We have a ways to go in de-stigmatizing the diseases of mental illness and addiction, but we need to keep moving forward and making progress. If you or someone you love needs treatment with an addiction and/or a co-occurring mental health disorder, call La Paloma at the toll-free number on our homepage. Someone is there to take your call 24 hours a day and answer any questions you have about Dual Diagnosis treatment, financing or insurance.