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Experts Warn Addiction Stigma Can Be Fatal

It is no news that addiction is one big problem Americans struggle with today. What we may not know is that it affects many more people than it seems. And now, experts are warning that very few people actually get the help they need to deal with their addiction.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 23.5 million people aged 12 and above had a drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009. Unfortunately, only 2.6 million people actually received treatment.

You may be tempted to think that people with these problems do not get help because there are not enough treatment centers, or medical experts to handle to load. That is very far from the reality. Experts say stigma is one of the most important causes of this problem. People are so scared of what others will say about their addiction that they will rather not show up for treatment.

A study by researchers from Johns Hopkins showed that stigma causes people to hide, deny or neglect their addiction even when they know they need help. In 2014 according to the CDC, about 47,000 people died of drug overdose. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism meanwhile, notes that 88,000 people die every year as a result of alcohol abuse. These staggering figures would probably be reduced, if stigma didn’t have such a devastating effect on drug and alcohol addicts.

The good news, though, is that experts know the solution to this problem of stigma. They recommend that addicts be treated with empathy and respect. They discourage regarding addiction as a disease, or calling an addict a “victim.” The experts also note that we shun blaming people for their addiction. They advise that Americans learn more facts about addiction so that they can identify it as a common problem with the ability to affect just anyone. If this happens, people will know that they too can be susceptible to addiction and will rather not stigmatize others.

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