Here is a question for you: Who can you tell when you have a drug problem?
Most people alive in the United States today grew up around some sort of stigma toward recreational drugs. This stigma took many forms, but it evolved over the years to focus on different drugs and different circumstances. And if you want to understand why people view drugs the way they do, you have to understand how these stigmas came about.
The most curious thing about the way people treat drugs in the United States is that they generally learn about drugs—whether they be recreational, narcotic, or pharmaceutical—before they consume them. This creates an interesting situation in how they are biased.
Most people are going to hold onto the beliefs that they form as children. This does not mean they will onto those beliefs forever. But they will certainly hold onto them tighter.
And that is where the stigma against drugs, and the need to keep addiction private, comes from.
Drug Stigma Throughout the Years
For Boomers, it was Reefer Madness, a craze against marijuana funded primarily by Harry Anslinger. He was a newspaper magnate who lobbied against hemp and its derivatives (including cannabis) to sabotage his competitors’ businesses.
For Gen X, it was the War on Drugs. This was a campaign against cocaine and crack in the United States that was meant to paint the production of cocaine in Central and South America as just cause for upending political stability in those same regions.
By the time these campaigns reached Millennials, they had devolved into the “Just say No” campaign. By this time, the main concern of society was keeping hard narcotics such as heroin and meth out of the hands of children. But what were the results of these campaigns?
Well, all of this rhetoric and misinformation about drugs resulted in stigmas founded on ignorance. People demonized substances without understanding them, and in turn, found comfort in demonizing the people who used them without understanding their context.
Who can you Tell About a Drug Problem?
Let’s return to that original question. Who can you tell? If you are addicted to drugs, who can be trusted to hear your struggle and offer sympathy rather than condemnation? It is a scary question to ask, but it is a question that many people with drug dependencies think about.
The answer has changed massively throughout the years. Fifty years ago, you could not tell anyone. Your priest, your doctor, your family, they were all convinced that a drug problem was a crime to be prosecuted rather than an affliction to be helped. This would change as time went on.
Thirty years ago, people began to soften toward the idea of recreational drug use. Mass media had made it clear that it was something that almost everyone had done at some point in their lives. This made it easier to talk to doctors, therapists, and lawyers without fear.
And now in the last fifteen years, you can feasibly tell your family about having a drug problem without fear of being disowned or abandoned. This change took time, but it is finally here.
Can you tell me about Your Job?
However, there are still some areas of life where talking about your drug problem is strictly taboo. For instance, your place of employment. If you tell your job that you are struggling with a drug problem, then they are likely to either fire you on the spot or find an excuse to do so.
Why is this? Well, we could examine the broad strokes of the reasons for quite a while. For instance, the view of the labor market is that each laborer is expendable. But that is highly theoretical. There is a much more practical way of broaching this question.
The main reason why your workplace does not want to hear about your drug problem is that it presents a liability. You see, imagine you are working at an auto shop. Auto shops require licenses to operate. But while the business itself needs a license, and they will usually only hire people with certain qualifications and certificates, their workers do not need licenses.
What does this mean? Well, imagine a car got damaged or destroyed by an unlicensed worker in an auto shop. Who is at fault? The license of the auto shop means that the burden falls upon them to hire qualified workers, rather than for the worker to be qualified themselves.
Apply this same logic to a drug problem: If a business knows you have a drug problem, but allows you to work anyways, then any damage you cause as a result of your drug problem can become the business’ responsibility since they let you work while knowing about this problem.
Liability in Society
This view of liability extends past just the workplace. Banks will not give loans and medical insurance companies will not cover treatments of people who have a risk like that associated with them. Houses can’t be mortgaged, and certain jobs will not hire you.
This can all feel incredibly isolating, like just having this one affliction marks you as a pariah. This is why it is so important that drug addiction, even recovery from drug addiction, be treated with discretion. It is easy for our highly profit-driven culture to view it as a risk to profits.
Of course, people do not exist to serve the economy. The economy exists to serve the people. And just because the people who bow down and worship the economy view a drug problem as a cause to ostracize an individual, that does not mean that those individuals lack inherent worth.
Drug addiction is a disease. It can happen to anyone. Before you tell anyone about your problem, make sure they can be trusted. That means they are either your friend or have a legal obligation to confidence with you, such as a lawyer or doctor.
If you want to find out more, visit us here: https://www.ascendantny.com/nyc-outpatient-rehab-iop-program/