3 Stereotypes about Recovery that are Wrong
Don’t label me away. We’ve all felt that way when someone places a hateful or ignorant stereotype on us and makes assumptions based on that label. The fact is, we all use labels and we all have labels used on us. Stereotypes and labels are easy and convenient ways for us to organize things, people, and places. It’s human nature, basic pattern recognition and compartmentalization. But when we’re talking about someone who is a recovering addict, these harmful stereotypes and assumptions can sabotage someone’s medical recovery from a debilitating sickness. Let’s take a look at 3 of the big culprits and put an end to harmful labeling for good.
1. Addicts are Criminals
Since the War on Drugs has put more addicts in cages than in hospitals, the general public has developed a kind of knee-jerk reaction to drug addiction that associates it with criminal activity. Of course, certain drugs are illegal and punishable by law. But not everyone who wanders down the unfortunate path of a serious drug addiction set out to commit felonies. Drugs are chemicals that grab ahold of people and overwhelm good decision-making. Someone with an addiction problem needs as much help and support as possible, even after making the decision to get clean. Heaping a bunch of hurtful accusations on them based on what you hear on the mainstream news is no way to help them recover.
2. Recovering Addicts are Boring
This one is pretty sad but it’s more common than you might think. When the guy you used to get wasted with on the weekends decides to get help for his unhealthy addiction to alcohol, it can sometimes be a stretch to decide what to do together. Just because a recovering alcoholic doesn’t drink anymore doesn’t mean they can’t have fun. In fact, most recovering addicts are more happy and themselves than they have been in years, and with more money to spend on travel and fun now that they aren’t wasting it on a fix! People are interesting and fun for who they are. Drugs and alcohol can amplify or enhance a social situation but don’t make the mistake of assuming they are necessary for a good time.
3. Recovered Addicts are Still Losers
This one hurts but many addicts face all kinds of judgment even after recovery and sobriety. An addiction can put a serious clamp on your life, stamping out a person’s goals, dreams, and pursuits. After a downward spiral, the people around an addict will often judge them harshly and continue to hold them in contempt for their unhealthy choices long after they’ve awakened and reached for recovery. The bitter stereotype is that the person is a lost cause and weak. Not only is this an ignorant and harmful stereotype, but it fails to help the situation by continuing to limit the addict’s options.
These harmful stereotypes permeate the media and the family dinner table. Talking about them can help to clear the air and set things straight. Recovery is a team effort and only by setting aside false judgments and ignorant assumptions about those in recovery can we help build a world less ravaged by unhealthy substance abuse.