People Who Use Heroin Are Still Stigmatized: How to Help Them Seek Support

People Who Use Heroin Are Still Stigmatized: How to Help Them Seek Support

Dependence and heroin use has grown a lot over the last decade. Heroin used to be less prevalent, but now dependence is increasing across all age groups, regardless of income or socioeconomic status. Heroin use has doubled among those who used to have lower rates of use (women and people who are white). For some reason, people are turning to heroin. As heroin use and dependence have become more prevalent, the chances each person knows someone dependent has climbed. It is likely most people know someone that has been touched by a loved one’s heroin use. Stigma is still a big challenge in getting them help. Find out why people who use heroin are stigmatized and learn some tips for helping them seek support. 

Challenging Epidemic

The heroin epidemic has many causes, linked to another drug epidemic of prescription opioids. ER visits related to opioid use have doubled and even tripled in many cases. Many people who get hooked on pills move on to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to access without prescription. This makes it a sort of gateway drug to heroin. The stigma around this drug use only makes it hard to seek help.

When Stigma Hurts

Most people disapprove of heroin use. Disapproval is lower for drugs like ecstasy, cocaine, and marijuana. Even frequent use of drugs like ecstasy is not as stigmatized as heroin. Much of the public is undereducated about drugs. This disapproval is understandable. Disapproval about use is understandable, as well, regardless of the reasons someone started using drugs. Stigmatizing or ostracizing use does not appear to help improve their condition. People with heroin addiction are already facing great odds and stigma when they lose everything to addiction. They may need to depend mostly on friends and family to get by. Even with healthy boundaries, it may be difficult to help someone with addiction overcome affliction. 

How to Help

As attitudes shift around the need for education and prevention, there is also a shift around supporting people with heroin addiction through brain-based science and research which suggests addiction is not a choice. The brain and body become hooked on the drugs. Attitudes are beginning to change as people lose friends and family to addiction. Naloxone is saving lives for those who overdose, but heroin dependence appears to be viewed more as a health issue and less of a stigmatized moral ‘failing’ on their part. When stigma is reduced, people can open the doors of discussion and begin to talk about the realities of heroin use more openly. Understanding how to help a loved one starts with a conversation. It begins with opening up to them, talking about the issues, and finding hope in the midst of tragedy. There is hope for healing when people are willing to talk about the issues and find ways of navigating it that are healthy. As heroin use continues to be a public health issue, people can fall back on thinking about their loved ones and approaching their drug useless as a choice and more of a reality that they cannot stop without help, or support of loved ones, to get them the treatment they need to succeed.

Oceanfront will help you treat heroin addiction. We also help treat other types of addiction with our best practices in rehab and recovery. We are located in beautiful Laguna Beach. Call us to find out how we can help you navigate addiction recovery: 888-981-4295