Stigma surrounding individuals who experience addiction creates a barrier to accessing support. It is a cause for discrimination based on negative perceptions and beliefs. More often than not, we find there are concurrent disorders accompanying substance or behaviour dependencies, which add to the stigma. It is estimated that only 20% of people who have a mental health diagnosis access help. This suggests that perhaps 80% of those with a mental health diagnosis are self-medicating. A vicious cycle can become easily established while escaping discomfort from our feelings and emotions by using substances or engaging in other maladaptive behaviours. It is this experiential avoidance pattern rather than the disorder itself that adds to our pain. Creating an atmosphere of non-judgement, acceptance and solutions in a manner that individuals can relate to creates the foundation of possibility and growth.
Patience in the process is vital, as I have found most people are so eager to regain their lives that they can jeopardize their recovery when it is in the early stages. Consistent structure, support and connection with patience, honesty and self-compassion are the ingredients that allow recovery to move forward.