Again I am Ranting about Stigma and Discrimination faced by those in addiction, recovery and their families.
As a society there are those that still consider it perfectly acceptable to discriminate against those who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. So stigmatised and undermined are they, not even their families will often acknowledge their family situation, thereby isolating addicts and their families further. Many individuals consider it quite appropriate to vent their thoughts on homelessness, begging, drugs and alcohol without ever a thought on who we are actually talking to.
Addicts and their families don’t wander around with big stickers on their chests or neon signs pointing them out. We are ordinarily getting on with our lives desperately trying to avoid the knife edge that hangs over us daily. Experiencing bereavement through addiction is becoming more commonplace and I’m sure there cant be too many families in the UK that haven’t been personally affected by a family members drug or alcohol use. To lose someone you love is always a difficult and sad time, for them to die of a drug overdose or alcohol related illness or incident makes it all the more difficult; unless they were a celebrity of course – only when a celebrity dies do the media come together and discuss addiction with an element of compassion, allowing us all to feel more able to discuss our own situations.
During #walktothewalk 2014 when a group of us walked from Weston super Mare to Manchester in aid of Help For Addiction Now, we experienced some wide ranging attitudes towards us. We all wore t-shirts and tabbards highlighting our cause and just the word “addiction” was enough to alienate a few hotel reception staff who went on to be offensive and were rude towards our party. Given that we were all in bed by 9pm, sober and completely exhausted was probably not noticed. A judgement was made by some Receptionists, in varying towns, who then felt empowered to be discriminatory and stigmatise our group.
I have only one thing to say… “Don’t judge until you walk in my shoes”, please don’t make assumptions about people from stereotypes that are often incorrect and outdated. Addicts and their families need your care and consideration. No one grows up wishing to be drug and/or alcohol addicted and no one looks at their baby and aspires for them to live a life as an addict. Have some compassion, please.