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There's a really big problem in the world today, bigger than addiction. Can anyone guess what that problem might actually be? It's how people who suffer from addiction are treated by others who aren’t properly educated about mental health and addiction.
Here are a few things that society really should keep in mind when they criticize a person whose life they know nothing about.
- Self Stigma makes it incredibly difficult for a person to be open to others about their struggles. Self stigma actually makes them feel like they are the bad person and that they don’t deserve to get treatment.
- Let’s be honest, no one should ever be made to feel bad about getting the help, ever. So why does society find it socially acceptable to do this for a person in recovery?
- Remember we all have our cross to bear in our life. Just because someone is rich or poor doesn’t mean that they haven’t had to deal with anything.
- Relapse can happen to literally anyone and it doesn’t make you weak. I’ve known a person who struggled with addiction and she was one of the strongest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.
- Looking at what caused the relapse in the first place takes a lot of strength and courage. Especially when so many people have such negative opinions about addiction.
- Having an addiction doesn’t make you a bad person. On the other hand judging someone for having an addiction may make you a bad person.
- Addiction can happen to literally anyone given the right circumstances.
- Many times addiction stems from a traumatic experience or undiagnosed mental health issue which makes treatment a very long complex process that can take years for some.
- Recovery involves a lot more than deciding to just quit. It can actually take up to two years of sobriety for healing a person's brain.
What I’m saying is that we’ve come a long way with mental health and addictions being a hush hush topic. That being said, we truly still have a very long way to go before the world is as accepting as it is towards physical health conditions.
Here are a few things that we all can do in order to make someone’s life a little better. People who already have so much to struggle with in their life.
- Seeing issues for what they are instead of based on our preconceived notions because you have no idea what a person has gone through.
- Don’t automatically assume that a person is bad or weak just because they have a substance abuse problem.
- If a person relapses, help them to see that it’s alright and understand the underlying causes of it.
- Be respectful about your friends' boundaries with their recovery and treatment.
- Practice active listening and don’t be demeaning or condescending.
- Reinforce the importance of seeking the help of qualified medical professionals.
- Remember that one of the most important things you can do is say I don’t know and point them to the proper resources.
- Just because you may have gone through struggles in your life doesn’t mean that they are the same as your friends. We all deal with things based on our beliefs, opinions, values and life experiences. These things are different for everyone regardless of how well you think you know someone, you’re not a therapist.
Remember that doing the small things can actually make a huge difference in another person's life. Like I previously mentioned, we all have our cross to bear. It takes strength and courage to face your metaphorical demons. Remember that.
The weak person is the person who can’t see past their narrow minded beliefs and judges others solely based on stereotypes because they don’t take the time to make a difference for another person. These are the people who should feel shame and embarrassment, especially when it’s about something as complicated as addiction.