Stigma comes from opinions and beliefs based on incorrect and limited knowledge. People hold a view that there is little hope of recovery from addiction because their neighbor still uses. They hear extensive media coverage about violent crimes committed by people who are using drugs or alcohol. They use cultural or family beliefs that may not be accurate or they believe oversimplified public messages. Stigma continues in part because quality research about addiction is distributed to a narrow audience.
Some stigma is reinforced by behaviors of people who are intoxicated. People’s beliefs are confirmed by personal experience. They have seen or experienced an intoxicated person being out of control, violent to themselves or others, or behaving unpredictably. Erroneous beliefs about addiction are strengthened through these negative individual experiences.
Health care providers, family, partner, employer, teachers, police or even friends may discriminate against you because of your past addiction. You may experience avoidance, exclusion, blame, and a greater focus on your flaws or errors.