So many people put off seeking the help that they so desperately need due to a substance use disorder (SUD) because they fear judgment. It is likely one of the most common reasons people sometimes go years to seek treatment, if they choose to do so at all. It’s often not because they want to continue struggling but because they fear how others will look at them if they admit they have a problem and ask for help.
If this is your current situation, you are not alone. The good news is that there are ways that you can reframe how you think about your issues with substance use. This can help you to stop worrying about what others think. Don’t let someone else’s opinion be why you don’t take the necessary steps to begin living a happier and healthier life and get treatment for your SUD.
Why Do Many People Struggling With Substance Misuse Disorders Fear Judgement From Others?
Unfortunately, stigma is one of the most common reasons people struggling with substance misuse fear judgment from others. Stigma is associated with false, negative, and harmful beliefs or language about those who struggle with addiction. Today, we know so much about addiction and how it affects the brain. We know it is a mental disorder that someone is not in control of. Despite this, many people still associate bad connotations with people who struggle with SUD.
Some incredibly harmful stigmas associated with those who struggle with addiction include:
- They are unreliable
- They chose this way of life
- They are selfish
- They are somehow dirty people
- They don’t care about others
- They are not remorseful
- They don’t want to get better
All of these stigmas are false, but we must address them. It’s also critical that we spread awareness about what addiction really is. This is necessary to end stigma and allow those struggling to feel comfortable enough to get the help they need.
How Can Understanding Addiction Reduce the Fear of Judgement?
Addiction is not something that should carry shame, even though it does for many people. In reality, many factors play into addiction that an individual has absolutely no control over, such as genetics and environmental factors. You cannot control whether or not addiction runs in your family or that this fact could have dramatically increased your chances of experiencing addiction yourself. Additionally, you cannot control things like mental health issues, grief, or even trauma that you may have experienced. These are some of the most common reasons that people start using substances in the first place.
Addiction is a disorder that affects the way that the brain works. When people use drugs or alcohol, they experience a release of a chemical called dopamine, which causes a euphoric sensation. Because this activates the brain’s reward system, some people find themselves constantly trying to experience that same sensation again.
However, as time progresses, addiction can change how the brain processes dopamine. Your body should produce dopamine naturally in your day-to-day life. For example, you might experience it when you hear a good song, see someone you love, or enjoy a delicious meal. But when dopamine production is interrupted through addiction, you may only experience it when you are engaging in substance misuse. This can lead to hopelessness and sadness, and other mental health issues.
Thinking about addiction this way, as a health disorder and not something you chose for yourself, can change your perspective. It can help you see why feeling guilty about it is unnecessary.
Why Shouldn’t I Fear Judgement About Seeking Help for Addiction?
At the end of the day, seeking help for addiction doesn’t make you weak. It makes you brave and responsible as you do what is necessary to take care of the problem at hand and become the best possible version of yourself. This is a noble thing that many aren’t able to do. You should be proud of your strength to make this decision because it shows that you’re taking accountability and want to make a positive change. If people want to be negative about it or judge you for it, then they are probably people you don’t need in your life.
It can help if you shift your perspective and put yourself into someone else’s shoes. For example, how would you feel if you knew someone that you loved was actively working toward sobriety by going through treatment? Would you judge them or think less of them? Probably not. Instead, you would likely feel proud of them and relieved that they were doing what was best for them.
It can also help to remember that you are not alone. Many people have experienced this and managed to achieve sobriety, and so can you.
Many people put off seeking treatment for substance use disorders because they are afraid of judgment from others. Don’t let the fear of what someone else may think keep you from seeking help and living your best life. There are so many factors that contribute to addiction that are out of your control. This could include everything from experiencing trauma, genetics, mental health disorders, and environmental circumstances. Addiction is a disease and not something you should feel guilty about. If you are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you don’t have to continue living this way. Call The Ho Tai Way at (714) 581-3974 today to learn more.