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Substance Use Disorder as a Chronic Illness: Breaking the Stigma of Addiction

Substance use disorder treatment

We often hear the term “breaking the stigma” associated with substance use disorder and addiction. What is stigma? The definition is “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.” We know that throughout society, there is a stigma associated with drug addiction. We know that stigma contributes to those suffering from addiction from seeking help or treatment. We know that stigma is felt by the loved ones of someone that has a substance use disorder. We know that stigma contributes to shame, and that shame additionally contributes to avoidance in taking action to overcome addiction. We know that there is a stigma associated with addiction from the people that believe addiction is a choice or that someone suffering from substance use disorder is doing so due to a moral failing.  We know that terms like “addict” contribute to stigma, and that stigma of addiction goes a long way into making an individual suffering from substance misuse feel like that are a bad or worthless person. We also know that there is a stigma surrounding people in recovery from addiction.


All these are examples of how the stigma of addiction contributes to the many problems associated with addiction and recovery in society.


How can we truly begin to shatter the stigma of addiction?




















Everyone has a part to play in breaking the stigma of addiction. The more informed we are, the more compassion we offer, the more supportive we are in someone seeking help and treatment for their condition, the greater off we will all be within society. Together, as a community and a society, armed with the information and knowledge of addiction being a chronic illness and a medical condition, we can collectively change the way addiction is viewed, addiction is discussed, and addiction is treated throughout our communities. This will create greater access to care for those in need. This, in turn, will make it all the more possible that those still suffering from addiction will be open to seeking help, to receiving treatment, and, ultimately, to entering recovery.


If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at

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