Overcoming The Stigma of Addiction in Ohio

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Stigma and addiction can be interrelated. Many people battling substance use disorders – the clinical term for addictions – experience feelings of shame or may perceive their condition as a failure of character. These feelings are often rooted in the longstanding social stigma of addiction.

Stigma refers to a trait or action that leads to negative social perceptions. The stigma around addiction can cause significant harm, frequently discouraging people from seeking the treatment they need. Read on to discover how you can overcome drug addiction stigma and connect with compassionate and evidence-based treatment.

What Is Addiction Stigma?

Although addictions are chronic and treatable medical issues, there’s a widespread stigma and discrimination against those suffering from them, largely due to a lack of understanding about these disorders and the effective treatments available. The negative perceptions and stereotypes surrounding individuals with substance use disorders often create obstacles to accessing treatment and can exacerbate these conditions.

Many people are unaware that substance use disorders stem from brain changes that render drug use compulsive, making it challenging to discontinue use without proper support. In some cases, individuals with severe substance use disorders may exhibit aggressive or deceptive behaviors which are totally out of character.. Such actions can further isolate them from their family, friends, and the wider community, further perpetuating negative stereotypes about substance use. Recovery is possible, though, especially with appropriate treatment.

Many factors, including genetics and social influences, can increase a person’s vulnerability to substance use disorders, some of which are outside their control. Despite this, addiction is often viewed as a personal or moral shortcoming. This means that some people battling a substance use disorder might face fear and hostility, even from friends or family members. 

Why Is There a Stigma Around Addiction?

The stigma surrounding addiction stems from many different factors, including:

  • Misunderstanding of addiction: Many people view addiction as a simple lack of willpower or moral failing rather than a chronic and relapsing brain disorder. This misunderstanding arises from a lack of awareness about the neurobiological changes in the brain that accompany addiction, which can significantly impair a person’s ability to stop using substances without help.
  • Media portrayals: The portrayal of addiction in media often focuses on extreme cases or negative behaviors associated with substance misuse, such as homelessness or criminal activity. These portrayals can skew public perception, leading to stereotypes that do not reflect the reality of most people living with substance use disorders.
  • Historical and legal frameworks: The criminalization of drug use and the historical treatment of addiction as a legal issue rather than a health issue contribute to stigma. People with addictions often face legal penalties rather than receiving medical treatment, which furthers the view of addiction as a criminal rather than a health issue.
  • Lack of education and awareness: There is a significant gap in public education on the nature of addiction, its causes, and the effective treatments available. Without this knowledge, misconceptions flourish, and stigma remains entrenched.

By promoting education, empathy, and a shift in how society views and treats addiction, we can begin to remove the stigma and support those affected towards healing and recovery.

Getting Treatment Despite Stigma Around Addiction

Overcoming the stigma associated with addiction and seeking treatment can be a serious challenge for those struggling with substance use disorders. That said, acknowledging the need for help is a fundamental first step toward recovery. Here are some strategies and considerations for seeking treatment regardless of any stigma toward addiction:

  • Recognize your courage: Acknowledging that you need help and deciding to seek treatment is a sign of strength placing you one step closer to regaining control over your life.
  • Seek confidential support: Many organizations and helplines offer confidential advice and support. Starting with these services can help you feel safer and less exposed, providing a space to discuss your situation without fear of judgment.
  • Educate yourself and others: Learning about the medical nature of addiction can empower you and help challenge any stigma you experience. Sharing this knowledge with close friends or family members can also help build a support network that understands the nuances and challenges of what you’re going through.
  • Choose the right treatment option: There are various treatment options available, including inpatient rehab, outpatient programs, and support groups. Researching and choosing the option that best suits your needs can make the treatment process feel more tailored and effective.
  • Connect with peers: Peer support groups, whether in person and online, can provide a sense of community and understanding. Connecting with others who have faced similar challenges can reduce feelings of isolation and stigma.
  • Focus on your journey: Remember that recovery is a personal journey. While societal perceptions may influence your feelings, your path to recovery is unique to you. Stay focused on your health and progress.

By focusing on your well-being and reaching out for help, you can overcome the barriers stigma creates and move toward a healthier future.

Resources for Dealing with Addiction Stigma in Ohio

There are many resources available for those facing addiction stigma in Ohio.

For all queries related to addiction treatment, call the Ohio state helpline at 1-877-275-6364.

Text 4hope to 741741 in the event of a mental health crisis. Speak with an experienced crisis counselor within five minutes to obtain confidential and personalized assistance.

Addiction support groups available in Ohio include:

  • Narcotics Anonymous: Find meetings for NA, a 12-step program helping people combat drug addiction, by searching online.
  • Nar-Anon: Look for Nar-Anon meetings in Ohio if you have a family member who is addicted to drugs and you need support for yourself.
  • Prevention Action Alliance GAP Network: Access information, education, advocacy, and support for individuals affected by overdose or working to end addiction right here.

Get Compassionate Care for Addiction at Ohio Recovery Centers

If you need effective and science-backed addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, consider outpatient treatment at Ohio Recovery Centers in Cincinnati, OH.

By choosing one of our outpatient or intensive outpatient programs, you can continue meeting your everyday commitments without compromising your recovery or becoming a victim of stigma – nobody will know you have gone to rehab unless you choose to reveal this information.

All Ohio Recovery treatment programs offer a personalized blend of evidence-based and holistic interventions to promote whole-body healing from addiction. Call 877-679-2132 for immediate assistance.

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn