How Do We Change Our Mindset About Substance Use and Misuse?

How Do We Change Our Mindset About Substance Use and Misuse?

Almost 20 million people live with a substance abuse disorder (SUD) in the United States of America.

Yet, despite the number of people this affects, there still exists societal stigma towards the individuals battling these mental illnesses.

So why do we think the way we do about substance abuse? And how can we as a society change our ways of viewing substance dependency? That’s precisely what we’re going to discuss in this article.

Common Myths About Substance Use Disorder

It is only through educating ourselves on the facts, that we will make meaningful changes in our perception. Let us challenge our beliefs about mental illness by taking a look at a few myths that continue to prevail.

Perceiving Those With SUDs as Bad People

Substance dependency does not make someone inherently bad, or good. Rather, we should look at SUDs as something the dependent does not have control over. It is a mental illness that requires treatment just like any other illness.

It is time that we separate the substance dependency from the dependent and recognize that it is something that could happen to anyone. People affected by SUDs are just as human as any of us!

Substance Dependency Is a Sign of Weakness

It takes varying doses of drugs or alcohol to create a substance dependency in different individuals. Having the capacity to consume without forming dependency is not a sign of strength, and developing a SUD after consuming a similar dose is not a sign of weakness.

Rather, we must recognize that each of us has different levels of tolerance to a particular substance. Additionally, we are all subjected to varying circumstances that could affect our susceptibility to developing a substance abuse disorder.

Reducing Societal Stigma

Stigma is generally understood as the negative thoughts or attitudes we have towards a specific group of people or their actions. As a society, our stigma towards those with mental illnesses, particularly substance dependency and abuse is undeniable. The good news is, there are plenty of things we can do to change our ways.

Putting Compassion First

Be mindful of the way you think about those with SUDs, and encourage others to challenge their own beliefs. People with SUDs are human first and deserving of empathy and consideration.

If you do encounter someone who has a substance dependency, understand that they are suffering. Listen, empathize, and offer them the support they need.

Education and Research

Educate yourself and the people around you about what SUDs really are. Learn about the symptoms of these disorders, and the effects they can have on the person living with one, as well as the people around them.

When you educate yourself on substance abuse, you’ll be better equipped to helping and supporting those around you.

Spreading Awareness in Communities

Spreading awareness about stigma, mental health issues, and substance abuse within communities is a powerful way to create a strong sense of support for those with SUDs. The more compassionate a community is, the more likely it is that someone with a dependency will seek treatment.

So sign up for those walks in your neighborhood, set up donations, and participate in awareness programs.

Standing Strong Together

We all have within us, the power to create change. And we all have a responsibility to change the way we perceive substance abuse disorders.

Do you want to participate in a movement that advocates against stigma? Register for this virtual walk in St. Charles county, and help fight the stigma against substance abuse!