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Although some people are understanding and society has come a long way, there is still a stigma attached to addiction. 

Because of the way the media has traditionally portrayed drug addiction and alcoholism as well as a large amount of information yet to be discovered regarding the disease, many people fall victim to the stereotypical views of addiction. They incorrectly assume that everyone fits this description and, consequently, they will spread false and harmful information. In reality, an estimated 20.3 million people in the United States in 2018 had a substance use disorder.¹ This number includes people of all different backgrounds, lifestyles, and addictions with varying degrees of severity. 

How to Destigmatize Addiction

The biggest reason society needs to destigmatize addiction is because of the harmful message it spreads. The stigma may prevent people from recognizing a problem if it doesn’t fit the stereotypical case as well as keep people from going to residential drug rehabilitation for help. Instead of potentially and perhaps unknowingly spreading this stigma even more, here is what you can do to stop the stigma of addiction. 


Ignorance is one of the biggest offenders of the creation of harmful stigmas and stereotypes. Addiction is a disease, but most people still think of it as a lack of self-control. If you are not that familiar with addiction yourself, get educated. If you have personal experience with addiction or watched a loved one struggle with substance abuse, use your knowledge to educate others. If you hear someone say something inaccurate, politely correct them. 

Share Your Story 

Destigmatizing addiction is about showing people that drug addicts and alcoholics are still people.  If you were addicted in the past but went to a detox center and got sober, you can use your story to stop the stigma of addiction. Focus on the diversity of those you met who were also struggling as well as the positives that came from recovery. If your loved one struggles with addiction or is in recovery, your story can be impactful as well. You can even share personal experiences of how this stigma has impacted your life. Your story is a powerful thing that can help humanize addiction. 

Raise Awareness 

You may want to consider volunteering with an organization that raises awareness about substance use disorders and destigmatizing addiction. You could also organize events in your community that have these same goals. When you put in the effort, you will be pleasantly surprised to see how much difference it could make. 

As a drug rehab in Pennsylvania, we understand that the stigma surrounding addiction may have prevented you or a loved one from getting the help you need in the past, but stop waiting to change your life you the better – the benefits of recovery far outweigh the costs. 

If you or a loved one is looking for help for a substance abuse problem, reach out to us now at 570-536-9621. At Clearbrook Treatment Centers, we are here to help and welcome anyone in need.  



  1. SAMHSA- Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
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