The concept of substitution, the stigma related to this concept, and what it means to us as a society, is something I spend a great deal of time pondering over. The idea of “substitution” seems like an easy one, right? We’re just exchanging something for something else. It is no surprise, that as a society, we figured out how to turn something so simple into a thing of negativity and judgement. I mean, how often have you heard someone say that he or she was, “just trading one drug for another?”
Stigma seems to show itself whenever there are two opposing forces and one of them is yours
When it comes to substance abuse treatment, what is deemed as a good substitution? Abstinence? Yeah, it is probably abstinence, because we are an ‘all or nothing’ society now. You have a drug problem? Well never touch that again. Let’s turn that substance into something bigger than you, rather than smaller. We have gotten real good at blaming the substance for our problems, as if the substance itself has implemented some evil plot to mess up your life when you weren’t looking. You, of course, were an innocent bystander through all of it.
Stigma is a very real problem and it is time to put it in the spot light and expose it for what it is
We place so much power in the substance. We even say “people are powerless” to them. This belief system has inadvertently turned drugs and alcohol into Gods. People are just people and you are only you. I guess that makes it fair to say in order to beat a God you need to find another, bigger One, right? That’s ridiculous, and we all know it. Deep in our hearts we know that something in us needs to evolve. We have to find another way to achieve whatever the drug fulfills. Sometimes we replace it with something else, and someone will come along and say you traded one bad thing for another… The nerve. Like this person has become an expert on what is best for you? If I am getting off heroin and find methadone helps me not shoot up anymore, than I am likely working at change. Working at change in its truest form can not be judged, because change is learning, and to place stigma on learning defeats the very purpose of judgement.
Stigma says the way out of addiction is to be like someone else
No matter how messed up our life may become, it is still our life, and there is something inherently ours about that. We don’t always appreciate it, but we know deep down it’s our only one and that alone is terrifying. If I have to take this life, that is mine, and make it like yours in order to be “ok” I will only be “ok” when you say so. That can’t be right. There can never be a winner when comparing one person’s truth to another’s. The most important thing we have to do as a society right now is call out stigma in all of its forms every time we see it.
Stigma is its own addiction
No one wants to wake up wishing their life was not their own, but it is happening every day, and we need to have an option to help that is stigma-free.