3 Stigmas of Addiction Treatment: Dispelling The Rumors

In the past 8 to 10 years, approximately 20 million people sought treatment for substance abuse related issues. There was nearly a 25% increase over the end of the 1990’s. Simply put, more people are seeking treatment.

It is this articles goal to examine 3 of these most common stigmas associated with treatment and to provide adequate solutions to these problems.

Treatment does not help someone quit using and drinking. They won’t stay “stopped.”

A lot of times, people lock themselves into the mindset that rehab did not help their loved one. This is usually the standard response after the family has seen they’re affected loved one return to drinking and using once again after completing a program.

Treatment alone does not cure anybody of addiction. Rather, “the goal of treatment is to return people to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community.” The key word in this statement is a community. While treatment can allow a necessary respite for the individual suffering from substance abuse, it is the aftercare practices directly related with a sense of community, fellowship, and identity in which the addict or alcoholic finds long-term recovery.

In fact, the family has the capability of playing a crucial role in this sense of community. The ARISE model, developed by Dr. Judith Landau is a vital tool used by several interventionists that drives home this poignant fact over and over again.

No, treatment does not cure someone of addiction. However, the old adage of “it takes a village” can provide a lot of weight behind the success of long-term treatment and recovery.


People just go to Treatment to avoid Prison or other serious negative consequences. They don’t really want to be clean and sober.


For many years now, the justice system has been

presenting people with an option; either treatment or jail. In fact, Portland has taken these measures a step further by decriminalizing possession of hard drugs such as meth and heroin this past July.  

This could also be seen in the form of court-ordered treatment. Furthermore, a person is required to attend so many 12 step meetings a week and have a court slip signed by one of the members leading the meeting. It is important to remember that the courts have absolutely no affiliation with 12 step based recovery whatsoever. Those who are seeking recovery are doing so by either the guidance of probation/parole officer or are doing completely on their own volition.

To the argument that someone only goes to meetings/treatment to stay out of trouble or not go back to jail; Well, you may be right. However, we cannot discredit the fact that many people in recovery found the treatment and support they needed after being “nudged by the judge.” If that is the motivation they need to stay clean and sober, that is a good start. Plain and simple. The rest is up to them.


People chose to do drink and use. This is not a disease, it is just them being bad people.

Man dealing with stigma of addictionOver the last 20 years of scientific advances, research has pointed more and more to the fact that addiction is, in fact, a chronic disease.  The results from prolonged effects on the brain from drug and alcohol abuse not only embeds negative social and behavioral contexts to it but also requires psychologically based and researched backed treatment for the disease to enter remission.

This is following the traditional medical model of disease (stating that the only requirement for an ailment to be considered a disease requires an abnormal dysfunction or distress to the individual affected), which medical professionals have been utilizing to find new ways to alleviate the brain chemistry to aid in the recovery process. The acceptance of this disease model has changed the medical world’s perspective on the blight of addiction entirely.

Still, there are those to this day that believes that addiction is a choice. A flaw in moral character. A weakness. A crutch.

We at Oregon Trail Recovery do not see it as such. We understand that our clients are not bad people. They are simply people who have made some negative and albeit bad choices.

It is our aim to see that they find the treatment that they need.


-J. Dalton Williams

Program Manager

Oregon Trail Recovery