Why People Don’t Talk about Substance Use Disorder

Substance use disorder can be a difficult topic for many individuals. Depending on their upbringing, their own personal experiences with substance use disorder, or things they have seen in the media, substance use may be something that is swept under the rug. This can be very dangerous because it deters individuals from getting the help they so desperately need. Learn the reasons why people don’t talk about substance use disorder and how you can comfortably start the conversation about substance use disorder.

There IsStigma Tied to Substance Use Disorder

One of the biggest reasons why people aren’t talking about substance use disorder is because of the stigma associated with it. According to the Western Australia Department of Health, the word stigma is defined as a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart from others. When a person is labeled by their illness, they are no longer seen as an individual but as part of a stereotyped group. Negative attitudes and beliefs toward this group create prejudice which can lead to negative actions and potential discrimination.

In the media, individuals who have a substance use disorder tend to be characterized as dangerous, homeless, of low moral standard, unruly, disrespectful, and volatile. This can perpetuate judgment from others and cause people who do have a substance use disorder to hide their condition. In addition, it can cause loved ones to live in denial and overlook their loved one’s red flags or calls for help.

There Is Shame Surrounding Substance Use Disorder

Due to the harsh stigma surrounding substance use disorder, individuals may feel a lot of shame because of their condition. Not only can they feel bad about their substance use, but they also have shame from any damage or hardships they have created toward others. Shame is a difficult thing for a person to admit to, making it another reason why people aren’t talking about substance use disorder.

It’s Difficult to Admit to Any Misgivings

Talking about substance use disorder and admit they need help can mean they are admitting their misgivings. Admitting that drugs and/or alcohol have control and power over them can be extremely difficult. This is especially true for people who have been defending their use or hiding their use for an extended period of time. Avoiding the need to admit to misgivings is a huge reason why people aren’t talking about substance use disorder and would rather be in denial.

It’s Hard to Ask for Help

There’s no way around it: it can be hard to ask for help! Difficulty asking for help can happen with something as simple as opening a jar, getting directions, or trying to put something together. Now, imagine needing to ask for help about something that has completely taken over your life, that you have likely been defending and covering up for so long.

Admitting to needing a total reset in one’s lifestyle can be extremely scary. The difficulty in asking for help can be a huge reason why people aren’t talking about substance use disorder and would rather sweep it under the rug.

How to Talk About Substance Use Disorder

Just because talking about substance use disorder is difficult doesn’t mean that those conversations shouldn’t happen. The more we are able to comfortably talk about substance use disorder, the less stigmatized it will become. Some tips for talking about substance use disorder include:

  • Becoming educated about substance use disorder. The more people learn about substance use disorder, the more they will be able to understand when someone needs help. Heavy and prolonged drug and/or alcohol use can make people act out in ways they normally wouldn’t when sober and it is important to remember this.
  • Being supportive and compassionate. As mentioned, talking about substance use disorder is extremely difficult for many people. That is why it is of utmost importance for support and compassion to be at the forefront of the conversation.
  • Writing a letter. Rather than sitting down to talk to a person about their substance use disorder, it might be easier to break the ice by writing a letter. This way, the person will be able to get all their thoughts and feelings out without forgetting anything.

There are many reasons why people aren’t talking about substance use disorder. From stigmas to admitting misgivings, it is a hard conversation to have. In the end, it may be the most important talk to have and worth getting through the difficulties that come with it. Not everyone is receptive to the conversation, but luckily, there are people available 24 hours a day to help, including at Cliffside Malibu.

About Cliffside Malibu

Because no two addictions are the same, we develop individualized treatment plans for every client at Cliffside Malibu. We are committed to providing evidence-based treatment through a continuum of care model across a range of levels of care, including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment, and outpatient services. Our program includes family therapy and holistic therapy. Whether an individual has a substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction, our programs are structured to create a supportive environment where healing can begin.

In addition to world-class treatment, Cliffside Malibu offers luxury accommodations, a serene environment, five-star dining, and plentiful amenities. We understand that addiction treatment is a rigorous process. Therefore, we provide for your comfort and relaxation at every turn, allowing you to rejuvenate, and meet the demands of treatment with your greatest energy and attention.

Visit Cliffside Malibu for more information.