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Here's How we Can Eradicate the Shame and Stigma of Addiction

As the founder of Clean & Sober Transitional Living, I am committed to helping eradicate the shame and stigma of addiction and alcoholism, which often keep people from seeking help. So I’ve pulled together eight fast facts about recovery from substance use disorder.

I hope these facts help people leave their misconceptions behind as they approach chemical dependency as a preventable and treatable brain disease. There’s no room for shame and stigma in this evidence-based conversation:

  1. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act clearly identifies addiction to alcohol or other drugs as a mental health issue and a substance use disorder (SUD).
  2. Twenty-three million Americans are in long-term recovery from substance use disorder. This list includes a past United States President, professional athletes, Fortune 500 executives, actors, musicians, as well as our everyday neighbors.
  3. Substance use disorder (the severest form of which is commonly referred to as “addiction”), is a chronic brain disorder from which people can and do recover.
  4. In the past year, 8.4% of adults (or 20.2 million adults) in the United States had a substance use disorder. Percentages for the Sacramento region are likely quite similar.
  5. What causes substance use disorder? Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, states that that 50 percent of a person’s vulnerability to drug addiction is genetic. And trauma (e.g., poverty, abuse, early death of a parent) changes the brain so that it becomes more vulnerable to more than 40 chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and substance use disorder
  6. Despite an increase in the understanding of the science of substance use disorders, research shows that people with substance use disorders are viewed more negatively than others.
    • Negative attitudes have been found to adversely affect the quality of health care and treatment outcomes.
    • Stigma and shame may keep individuals and families from finding the help they need to get better.
  7. Just as substance use disorder impacts individuals, families and communities, recovery improves individuals, families and communities.
  8. Finding the right support network is vital to the recovery process. Sober housing, where people choose to live productive lives without alcohol or other drugs, can be an important part of sustained recovery.

Don Troutman, Founder, CSTL

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