‘Stigma’ by Peapod

blog-14-06-2013-image1We all know that people with substance use problems and their families are stigmatised by many people. Here, Peapod blogs about stigma on Wired In To Recovery in 2009.

‘My dictionary defines stigma as “a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach.”

It’s a problem for addicts like us. I’ve been subject to it a few times in both active addiction and in recovery. Recovery is such a good news story. Why do recovering addicts still suffer from stigma?

I can look at this from a internal point of view. Eleanor Roosevelt said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” That’s a really empowering statement, though you need a bit of healthy thinking and self-esteem to put it into practice. Many of us don’t have that in active addiction or early recovery.

Similarly, Victor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor said; “The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me.’” I don’t need to react to it and if I feel good about me and my recovery, I can still hold my head up high.

My hackles rose today when I read a letter in Drink and Drug News (DDN). I don’t think the author likes addicts. He thinks they are responsible for a slew of societal ills.

They “mug and rob old people”, are responsible for bringing prostitutes into towns; “sell drugs to children”; “disrupt our schools” and “bankrupt businesses”.

I don’t think correlations with global warming, the banking crisis and the extinction of the dinosaurs are mentioned in the list, but perhaps the letter was edited for length.

I think to work in this field, you have to have a fondness for addicts. You need to like them. Not all of us do. Our addict behaviour can be challenging at times but essentially we are just people who’ve drifted from our values due to getting derailed by drugs. We’re not evil.

blog-14-06-2013-image2Stigma is a massive issue for us all. Families, practitioners, addicts. We need to challenge it and show it for what it is: unfounded and based on fear.

Stigma is like a dog doing its business on a pleasant pavement. I don’t like it, it smells horrid and to be honest, brown was never my colour, but I certainly don’t have to step in it.

If I’m in a good space and am prepared I can swoop down, scoop it up in a clear plastic bag and run down the street waving it for everyone to see what it really is: poop! Plain and simple poop.

I believe there are ways we can fight stigma. Where we find it though, we don’t need to bow to it, get it on our shoes or believe its sewer message.

We are addicts in recovery. We are good people doing our best. Those who stigmatise us can go poop somewhere else!’