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The Dangers of Stereotyping Addicts as Second Rate Citizens

A common occurrence in the addiction community is that of stereotyping addicts as second rate citizens.  This stereotyping is quite unpleasant and incredibly detrimental.

The sad truth is that addicts earn a bad rap and earn a bad name because of all that goes into being an addict. Drug and alcohol addicts generally engage in criminal activities far more often than non-addicts.  Addicts also tend to cause turmoil and difficulties in their families that other individuals don’t create as much or as often.

However, when stereotyping addicts, we put them into a different classification of humans.  We grant them the right to be addicts by accusing them of being addicts and nothing else.  We show acceptance of their behavior by accusing them and by stereotyping them.  The classic thought process of a stereotyped addict is, “Well, this is what they think of me, so this is what I will be.”  One can see how this stereotyping can lead to an actual continuation of the substance abuse habit.

How to Avoid Stereotyping Addicts

Drug and alcohol addiction causes trouble left and right for those who fall under its spell.  These stereotypes are dangerous, but they can be addressed and avoided.  Here are some tips in this direction:

  1. Do not allow yourself to cut any slack to an addict or assign excessive blame to an addict just because they are an addict.  You must focus on treating addicts the same no matter what.  Apply the same judgment to an addict that you would to another person who was not abusing drugs and alcohol.
  2. Focus more on helping the person as opposed to stereotyping them.  Focus more on giving them assistance as pertains to getting them into treatment.  Do not enable them or make excuses for their behavior. Also, don’t allow them to simply continue on endlessly abusing drugs and alcohol.
  3. Keep in mind that a drug or alcohol addiction is not a choice.  Focus on getting the addict to address their addiction, but do not treat them like a lesser human being in doing so.
  4. People will act how they are treated.  If a person is treated like a criminal, they will be a criminal.  If they are treated like an addict, they will be an addict.  Instead, treat them like a human being with a horrific disease, and go from there.
  5. Seek to impress the same thought processes onto others.  An addict values greatly the opinions of those around him or her.  Make sure that the other people in an addict’s life do not stereotype the addict in any way.

It is not always easy to try to help addicts.  Even simply being connected to them in any way can be quite trying indeed.  Apply some of the above tips and suggestions. You will have more success helping the addict address his or her problems and  resolve their issues.

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