Mental illness and substance abuse addiction are often referred to as “invisible disorders” due to the fact that they are rarely recognized or discussed. Find out how to break the stigma of addiction and mental illness and how it harms struggling people.
A mental health disorder affects nearly one in five adults in the United States today. In addition, a mental illness affects every sixth young person between the ages of 6 and 17. Additionally, substance abuse affects more than 20 million people in the United States.
Addiction and mental illness are all around us. These types of disorders might be affecting a friend, a neighbor, a coworker, or even a family member right now. The issue is that it’s not always easy to see them. Even though many of us may believe that we know what a drug addict or psychosis looks like, the truth is that we don’t. Every person experiences mental health issues, including substance abuse, in a unique way. They can have an effect on anyone, regardless of age, gender, origin, or upbringing. Additionally, they are frequently invisible.
Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and ADHD are all mental health conditions that are not always obvious. Substance abuse disorders, which are also considered chronic brain disorders, can be difficult to spot. Even though there are clues that could indicate an addiction or a mental illness, many people are good at hiding their symptoms.
Let’s put that aside for a moment now. When it comes to mental health, why do people conceal their symptoms? Why do they not seek professional treatment for their disorder instead?
One word describes these responses: stigma. A lot of people don’t get the help they need because of the stigma associated with mental illness and addiction.
Only 11% of the 20 million people struggling with substance abuse received any kind of professional assistance. Less than half of the 51 million people who struggle with mental illness received adequate treatment. The following are typical justifications for delaying treatment:
The stigma associated with addiction and mental health is exacerbated by a number of factors, including a lack of awareness or denial of having a mental health issue, prejudice against those with mental illnesses, and anxiety about what others might think of them after being diagnosed.
Stigma: What is it?
Disapproval or discrimination based on a particular characteristic is called stigma. Health-related characteristics like mental illness, addiction, and disabilities frequently generate stigma. Gender, race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation all carry stigmas.
The American Psychiatric Association says that there are different kinds of stigma. These are some:
Social stigma or public stigma: This involves having unfavorable or discriminatory attitudes toward a particular trait, like mental illness.
Self–Stigma: This refers to feelings of self-pity and self-doubt regarding one’s condition.
Stigma in the Institution: This is a systemic issue in which policies or organizations discriminate against individuals based on a particular trait, such as mental illness, either intentionally or unintentionally.
A lack of understanding is frequently the root cause of stigma. People who are unaware of substance addiction as a disease may develop a bias against those who struggle with it—perhaps unintentionally. Stigma can sometimes stem from a fear of the unknown. For instance, people who have not experienced mental illness may harbor some fear or bias toward those who suffer from mental health issues. They might be completely afraid of talking about mental illness.
Breaking the Stigma Addiction and mental illness stigma is unfair to those in need. Additionally, it is unfair to their loved ones and families. Most importantly, it may cause significant harm. Self-stigma is caused by mental health disorders’ social stigma. Together, they prevent too many people from receiving assistance.
“At the root of this dilemma is the way we view mental health in this country,” Michelle Obama wrote. It doesn’t matter if a disease affects your heart, leg, or brain; it’s still a disease, and there shouldn’t be any distinction.
A variety of health conditions that affect a person’s brain, behavior, mood, emotions, and ways of thinking are referred to as mental illnesses. Essentially, substance use issues (casually known as substance habit) are complicated ailments that change how the cerebrum capabilities. To put it simply, substance abuse and mental illness are both brain diseases. They have an impact on how someone thinks, feels, behaves, and completes tasks. They both have a long-term impact on the parts of the brain that are responsible for memory, learning, making decisions, and exercising self-control. Thus, both emotional wellness and substance use problems require progressing treatment to oversee and survive.
We must acknowledge these facts in order to lessen the stigma associated with addiction and mental illness. Substance abuse is a lifelong condition that cannot be avoided. Disorders of mental health affect the brain; however, just because you cannot see them does not mean that they do not exist.
Renowned performer Demi Lovato, who has long battled with psychological well-being and enslavement, calls others to ponder this, as well. “I wish people could understand that the brain is the most important organ of our body,” she stated in an interview with Huffington Post. Even though mental illness can’t be seen like a broken bone, it still has the same negative effects on families and individuals.
She continues, “I think the key to creating a conversation about mental illness and making it more understandable is the more people vocalize what they’re going through – their experience or just educating themselves so that they can learn more about what they’re talking about.” There is a lot of judgment and a lack of compassion for people with mental illnesses. I believe that people will have a better understanding of mental illness once they realize that it can happen to anyone and is not the fault of anyone.
By encouraging people to talk about mental illness or drug addiction, you can help break the stigma associated with those conditions. Mental illness and substance abuse are poorly understood, despite their prevalence in society. People will learn more about these disorders, their causes, and how to assist those struggling with them the more we talk about them and share information about them.
Too many people ask, “Why doesn’t this stop using drugs?” in today’s world. or “Why do they keep choosing to use?” People frequently ask, “Why don’t they just eat a meal?” to people who are struggling with eating disorders. We might ask depressed people, “Why don’t they just get out of bed?”
The stigma associated with mental illness and addiction is also exacerbated by these inquiries. Substance use and mental health disorders are intricate and persistent conditions. Overcoming them is not easy, and not on one’s own. They usually need professional assistance.
Assuming your cherished one is battling, you can likewise urge them to discuss it. It is possible to enter a treatment program, build a support network, and reduce one’s own self-stigma by expressing one’s struggles through vocalization.
Last but not least, even if you haven’t been affected by mental illness or substance abuse, it’s important to break down the stereotypes about addicts and mental illness. We label “drug addicts” as morally wrong, out of control, or at their lowest point far too frequently. In point of fact, addicts are suffering from a disease—sometimes they are high-functioning, other times they are our own friends. They don’t all appear to or behave the same.
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