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The Stigma of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction

Essay by   •  July 3, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,192 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,858 Views

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Grabber: Form a picture in your mind of what a drunk or a druggie looks like keeping in mind the social stigma attached. Most of us imagine the bum living on the street or under a bridge, guzzling from a bottle in a brown paper sack and hustling for the next fix. Is this an exemplary example or the result of social stigma? What does the average individual with the disease of alcoholism and/or substance abuse look like?

Audience Identification: Statistics show that the social stigma attached to such diseases affect a great percentage of our population, regardless of age, either personally or through someone they care about.

Thesis Statement: This speech will afford you the opportunity to learn about the effects of the social stigma attached to drug and alcohol abuse and how it is no respecter of demographics. You will also learn of some alternatives that can help reduce this stigma.

Main points

1. First of all, it's vital to understand that this particular social stigma often stems from beliefs about illness etiologies.

A. Referring to an article found at http://www.alcoholanswers.org/alcohol-education/stigma-alcohol-dependence-treatment.cfm I quote, "Because of the social stigma that has been placed on alcohol dependence (alcoholism) treatment, many people may feel that alcohol dependence is a sign of moral weakness, and shame may prevent some from seeking alcohol treatment."

B. Awareness that stigma derives from the disgrace attached to something that is socially unacceptable often deters individuals of all ages to accept that they have a health problem which may require attention and a support network as opposed to being a dissolute human being without hope.

C. They are not bad people, they are sick people.

Transition: Now that where the stigma stems from and its harmful effects have been clarified, I will continue with information on how it can affect anyone, of any age.

2. The social stigma that stems from addiction does not discriminate.

A. From the Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, I quote, "The World Health Report suggests that alcohol use is among the leading risk factors for negative health consequences and death worldwide (WHO, 2002). Although alcohol misuse is present among people of varying ages, persons aged 18 to 24 years show the greatest proportion of problem drinkers (US Department of Health and Human Services. 1997)."

B. The article goes on to mention how in spite of all the universities efforts to decrease these behaviors, student drinking has remained relatively stable. The article points out the many obvious negative effects of problem. What it fails to look at is the social stigma that can easily result and shadow someone for a lifetime.

C. Transition: Now that the problem of the stigma attached to addiction along with an understanding that it can affect individuals of all ages, let's consider if there are any feasible solutions.

3. History has proven that addiction related social stigma can be lessened through joint efforts from the recovery community along with others who are willing to accept that healing is possible.

A. For any social stigma to begin dissipating, education and acceptance on the subject of the stigma is necessary. Epilepsy, Hansen's disease (leprosy), Schizophrenia, AIDS, Cancer, Alcoholism, and Addiction are but a few diseases clouded by stigma. Fortunately, as we have become educated in and less fearful of the first few mentioned, the stigma has lessened. However, the lessening is a long, lengthy process.

B. It involves honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness not only for the people working through recovery but for those who justifiably fear if their efforts are genuinely sincere. Surprisingly, the greater percentage of recovering addicts/alcoholics, are difficult to

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