Public Efforts to Reduce the Stigma

Addiction is a disease that disturbs all walks of life. No matter your age, financial status or occupation, addiction affects millions of people. The National Institute of Drug Abuse states that close to 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older have used an illicit drug in the past month.[1] In addition to drug addiction issues, mental disorders are also common. Tens of millions of people each year struggle with mental issues such as depression yet only about half of those affected receive treatment.


Moving past your struggles

Thankfully, some brave men and women have come forward to share their struggles with addiction and mental illness. Ohio State University football coach, Urban Meyer, has faced challenges with anxiety. Recently, Meyer has come forward to openly discuss his struggles to help others going through hard times. Meyer says, “I hate to admit that 15 years ago, maybe 10 years ago, I would’ve been like, C’mon, man, toughen up. What the hell’s wrong with you?” But Meyer sought out help. He found out that he is not alone and that healthy habits must be in place for stress relief.[2]

Actress Jodie Sweetin became addicted to alcohol during high school. In college she then turned to harder drugs such as cocaine and even meth. Thankfully, Sweetin went to rehab and became sober. Now she speaks at colleges warning about the dangers of substance abuse. Her story is a message of second chances, and she now shares how she turned things around and is able to overcome adversity.[3]

Even Prince William and Kate Middleton often speak out about the importance of removing the stigma around mental illness. On October 10th, the UK has a Mental Health Day where this issue is addressed directly. Mental illnesses such as depression are treatable. However, statistics show that one out of every five Americans have a diagnosable mental illness.[4] If you have been diagnosed with any form of mental issue, please know help is available.

Different Ways You Can Break the Stigma

Whether you struggle with addiction or mental illness—or even both—there are many things you can do to move past any shame you feel. You are not alone. There are millions who feel just as you do. One of the easiest things you can do is tell your story. There are often awareness events and charity outings in your local area that you can attend. Help your loved ones however you can. If you know someone who struggles with mental illness or substance abuse, talk with them in a calm, non-threatening way.

If you feel ashamed or embarrassed for any of your struggles, know the challenges you face do not define you. Addiction and many mental illnesses such as depression are not something you can control. No one wakes up and says, “I want to be a depressed addict.” Your genetic makeup plays a large role in addiction and mental illness. You can choose to cope with stress in healthy ways such as exercise and the creative arts. Again, your struggles do not define you. If you would like to reach out to someone who cares, know our helpline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You’re not alone. You can move past your problems and live a healthy life.


[1] Drug Facts: Nationwide Trends

[2] I’m Not The Lone Wolf. Sneed, Brandon. September 13th, 2016.

[3] Jodie Sweetin Shares Her Story of Addiction and Recovery. Powers, Tim. January 20th, 2016.

[4] Celebrities Changing the Stigma of Depression and Mental Illness. West, Scott.

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