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A stigma is a negative stereotype placed on a personal trait which can lead to shame, fear and discrimination. Stigmas can be the focus of disabilities, religion, illnesses, obesity, sexual orientation or addiction. They perpetuate through misinformation and generalization (e.g. everyone with a mental illness is dangerous). The stigma of addiction can add more stereotypes when it goes with discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, race, age, socioeconomic status, etc.

What Stigmas do

Stigmas can be barriers to everyday living. Employment opportunities, family acceptance and even medical care can be obstacles when you carry the stigma of addiction. For many, addiction is synonymous with crime, immoral behaviour and weakness of character.

Stigmas can also become so prevalent through media that the individual may begin to believe the negative views about themselves.[1]

This can often lead to someone avoiding treatment or help for fear of being stigmatized. The self-stigmatizing can also lead to further substance abuse to cope with feelings of worthlessness or fear.

One stigma is that those with addictions are not worthy of help. This is not true.

ASYR: Honouring your strengths

At ASYR we understand that substance abuse and problem gambling are the result of personal lifestyle issues and coping strategies. We also recognize the detrimental effects of addictions on the emotional, mental and physical health of individuals, their families and friends.

Stigmas define a person solely by one negative characteristic. People are bigger than their addiction, and are not solely defined by it. When working with clients, we honour the dignity, worth and resolve of those who seek treatment and offer a safe and supportive environment to all our clients.

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