Stigma of drug abuse

Edited by Paul Alexander

Last updated July 25, 2014

One of the main issues circling drug abuse in The United States is stigma – stigma that drug abuse is a choice, stigma that people can just “quit” using, and stigma that those who abuse drugs are poor, uneducated, ignorant and unsuccessful. These are not new issues by any means, and as we continue to move forward as a society to uncover more truth about these false stigmas, we are often faced with some unsettling news.

For example, in one week alone, two major drug busts made headlines — one including a New York City elementary school principal and another including a pilot for JetBlue Airlines.

Both professionals faced drug-related charges. Sadie Silver, principal at Public School 28 in New York City, is facing charges of promoting prison contraband for attempting to smuggle heroin and prescription drugs into a correctional facility. She is also facing charges of possession of a controlled substance as well as child endangerment, as she had a 10-year-old with her at the time of the crime.

John Manwaring, a pilot for JetBlue, was caught possessing heroin in an undercover drug bust conducted in Boston, Mass. He was arrested and has since been “removed from duty pending the outcome of the investigation,” according to JetBlue. Like Manwaring, Principal Silver has also been removed from her post and put into an administrative center until further notice.

There are two edges to the sword when it comes to stories such as these. For starters, seeing people in positions such as prinicpals and pilots facing consequences for drug-related actions works to shatter the incorrect stigma that only those who are unsuccessful or unemployed suffer from drug abuse and its many effects. On the other hand, it is never good to see something like a major drug epidemic infiltrate into all classes of people, as it signifies a major problem that is much larger than what we often can imagine.

One of the most important things to take away from stories such as these is that even though we are only hearing about a handful of drug-related issues amongst successful people, that these issues are prevalent throughout all social and economic groups – not just the poor and/or uneducated. By making this realization, people from all walks of life can work harder to safeguard both themselves and their loved ones from the many dangers that can come from drug abuse and addiction. This can include talking more openly about these issues, learning ways to abstain from experimentation, developing ideas on what to do when a loved one is showing signs of addiction, and more.

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Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.