These types of secrets can keep you sick. These types of secrets can kill you. The secret of an addiction will only help it to grow until it becomes uncontrollable. Even then it is up to you to admit that there is a problem. With the weight of secrets growing so do the feelings of loneliness, guilt, or fear. Keeping an addiction a secret is not an easy task. The lies just keep growing.
Loneliness can be the reason for a few different problems we have in our lives. We can try and say that we aren’t hurting our family or friends because they don’t know, but that is a rationalization. This keeps the door open to keep using without care or guilt. This can lead to tension in relationships with family or friends, sometimes, taking them to the breaking point. Just trying to keep drug or alcohol abuse a secret forces you to become more and more inverted. Real relationships will begin to fade. New people will come into your life. They are people you have an addiction in common with, not people who truly care about your well-being. As addicts or alcoholics, being alone is the worst thing that can happen, mostly because now the addiction is in complete control.3
The Stigma about Addicts and Alcoholics
The stigma of addiction is alive and well. A stigma is a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance. They stir up feelings of shame, hopelessness, and blame. Generally speaking, words like junkie or meth head don’t really provoke the image of someone we love. Words like these can work both ways in keeping an addiction a secret.
A mother may not want her son to be a junkie, so she may not ask. That son would never want his father to think of him as a junkie, so the conversation never happens, the secret is alive and well. Labels like crackhead dehumanize and make it easier to just not think about it or do anything about it. In a study done by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2014, the general public was more likely to have negative attitudes towards those dealing with drug addiction than those who were dealing with mental illness.
Study leader Colleen L. Barry, PhD, MPP, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “In recent years, it has become more socially acceptable to talk publicly about one’s struggles with mental illness. But with addiction, the feeling is that the addict is a bad or weak person, especially because much drug use is illegal.” That stigma is dangerous because we cannot keep turning our heads. Our people are dying from a treatable disorder.
The Stigma About Rehab
The stigma about rehab is also another reason secrets are kept. Reaching out for and getting help can sometimes be seen as being weak. Addiction is not battled with will-power. These stigmas are keeping people sick and ashamed.
Going to a rehab is not something to be ashamed of. Going to a rehab means getting the help you need. What could be better than that? There have been steps in the right direction. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed in 2010, included access to addiction treatments. For insurance purposes, the ACA declared that addictions were no longer pre-existing conditions making it easier for those seeking treatment to get the help they need. The ACA created some insurance plans that include:
- Addiction Treatment Medications
- Clinic Visits
- Home Health Visits
- Family Counseling
- Inpatient Detox
- Outpatient Programs
The ACA did help provoke discussion, but we still need to shed more light on addiction. These stigmas can be treated, as well. The more we talk about addiction and treatment, the more people cannot ignore it. As long as stigma on addiction and getting help exists, it will continue to hinder some people from getting help.
What Do I Do?
First, you are not alone. Speaking up about suffering is not weak- it is a moment of strength. It is a moment of strength that can continuously be built upon. Addictions cause unbelievable suffering. Keeping this secret holds so much weight and brings you further and further down. Keeping your addiction secret becomes a full-time job. You have to speak up about your suffering.
There are people everywhere that can help you. In the public’s eye, the stigma is there and there may be some loved ones that share those feelings. Although that may be hard to deal with, there are other people that will not judge you. There are others that have felt what you are feeling. There is a whole community out there that will not judge or shame you. This community is shedding light on addiction.
They are shedding the light so you don’t have to be alone in the dark anymore. If you are suffering- reach out. If someone you love or know is suffering don’t be afraid to talk about it. Ask questions. Give us a call 888-380-0667 We are here for you 24/7!