Rehabilitation centers have helped as many as 54,000 people in Florida. These people include the youth, workers, and other adults who are eager to turn over a new leaf after recovering from substance abuse issues. Unfortunately, many people see recovering addicts as unworthy of respect. Ask anyone how they see an “addict” or “rehab patient,” and you’ll get the most demeaning answers.

Unknown to most, rehabilitation is a standard way for a person to recover from substance abuse disorder, much like how people go to a hospital when they’re sick or injured. The support of the Floridian community is vital as a person’s rehabilitation doesn’t end after they leave a facility, which is why the stigma related to rehabilitation centers needs to be stamped out.

What is stigma?

Stigma is a socially-imposed brand of disgrace ascribed to a person. Because of stigma, people are reluctant to go to rehab or reveal their rehab history because they are afraid of looking bad in others’ eyes. Stigma makes it hard for rehab patients to find jobs and similar opportunities. But what these patients and everyone else should understand is that going to rehab is not a sign of weakness. The sociologist Margaret Mead said that outside forces like labels attached to a person by society, help shape a person’s identity. Stigma can influence a person’s perception of himself or herself, and if that perception is negative, that person might suffer a relapse. That’s why we must correct misconceptions and overcome stigma.

How you can overcome stigma

If you are among those concerned with having a stigma attached to you because you went to rehab, you need to teach yourself to overcome stigma that will prevent you from seeking professional help or gaining the acceptance of your family and friends.

(1) Educate yourself about your addiction and society

What’s the science behind your addiction? Knowing how addiction as an illness works will empower you to make positive changes in life regardless of how others see you. Also, you should learn how to accept your past. If you do that, you can withstand how harsh society may treat you once you step out of the facility. Aside from your addiction, you need to know how society feels and thinks so you’ll see why some people might have an unfavorable view of you. Understand that not everyone knows what rehab is, why it is done, and how it works.

(2) Educate others

Depictions of addicts on TV and in popular culture means the deck is stacked against you. But what they think of you is not what you really are, and you know it. Prove society wrong. Dare to be productive! If others are unkind and judgmental towards you, be the better person and stay kind and humble towards them. At the same time, Florida needs rehab beneficiaries to speak up and raise awareness when it comes to drug addiction and other mental health issues. Since stigma is a reflection of how society operates, you need to change that, not only through your own efforts but by linking up with fellow advocates as well.

(3) Join a support group in Florida

No one will be better equipped to advocate for those who have firsthand experience of rehab than recovering addicts themselves. Therefore, another way you can stamp the stigma around rehabilitation centers is to join a support group of like-minded people in Florida. Florida has a lot of support groups for people who have a history of substance abuse. They are your friends who will encourage you to stay on track with your recovery as you encourage them to do the same. By linking up with others who know what you’re going through, you’ll be with people who can make you feel more confident about yourself despite your past.