Reducing the Stigma of Addiction Increases the Hope for Recovery

As National Recovery Month comes to a close, the addiction community looks forward to continuing its work throughout the year. During the month of September, communities worked to promote new evidence-based treatments, celebrate those in recovery, and thank the dedicated providers who make recovery possible. Events such as resource fairs, walks, fundraisers, social gatherings, and community conversations brought recovery awareness to the public. Recovery Month has been a time to come together and recommit to the fight against opioid use disorder (OUD).

Local, state, and federal officials issued proclamations designating September as Recovery Month. The proclamation read in part, “As we consider the work ahead, let us remember that there are many pathways to recovery and that overcoming substance use disorder is courageous and difficult. Let us also understand the importance of eliminating the stigmatization of addiction.”1

Working to reduce and eliminate the stigma of OUD is one of the most important initiatives to get patients into long-term recovery.

What Is the Stigma?
Negative perceptions of OUD create a stigma around the disease. This stigma is rampant in the general public and within the healthcare community. Common misconceptions are that addiction is a personal choice, a private matter, or a moral and criminal issue.

These views are the primary reason individuals do not seek help toward recovery. Stigma causes shame for people suffering and those close to them making it difficult to acknowledge the problem. In addition, stigma within the healthcare community can affect the quality-of-care patients receive. In the larger community, stigma has caused underfunding for resources and healthcare and a lack of educational investment around OUD.

How to Reduce the Stigma
The way to beat the stigma of addiction is to promote positive messages surrounding recovery. OUD is a treatable disease. Help is available. Relapse is not a failure. Recovery is possible.
One way to do this is to educate healthcare providers and the public about recovery options. A key to success is knowing there are options and finding the right one for a patient’s recovery journey. By promoting new evidence-based treatments and highlighting those in recovery, the stigma can be replaced with a message of hope.

Offering a new option on the road to long-term recovery is Speranza Therapeutics S.T. Genesis. This is an FDA-cleared neuromodulation device that supports the reduction of opioid withdrawal symptoms. The noninvasive, drug-free device is easily applied to the ear by any provider and administers treatment for 5 days, helping the patient during the most critical time as they reduce opioid use. This revolutionary device is reducing the stigma by arming providers with a tool to make treatment a success. Together through innovation the message of Recovery Month can continue all year.