Breaking the Stigma on Addiction and Mental Illness

Breaking the Stigma on Addiction and Mental Illness

Findings indicate that there has been a significant problem with the stigma of addiction and mental illness for the last several decades. For decades, people have maintained a pervasive belief that any form of addiction comes down to choice; therefore, the individual choosing to be addicted has low willpower or bad morals. The same type of mental health stigma exists, often believing that an individual who experiences depression or similar symptoms should just be stronger and get over it.

This stigma on addiction and mental illness is evident in society and in professionals who interact with those in need, like healthcare professionals. Thankfully, there are ways everyone can do their part to go about breaking the stigma of addiction and mental illness.

Water Gap Wellness Center offers mental health treatment in Pennsylvania. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you manage symptoms of depression.

How to Reduce Addiction Stigma

There are many ways that everyone can do their part to reduce the stigma of addiction and mental illness.

Improve Education

When HIV and AIDS became a prolific health concern, there was a great deal of misinformation. This led people to believe that things like HIV could be transferred by sharing a water fountain with someone who was HIV-positive. Such inaccurate stigmas lead to isolated treatment, prejudice, and injustices. The best way to break a mental health stigma or addiction stigma is through education.

Improved education is one of the best ways to remove stigma because it provides legitimate, research-based information rather than hearsay or gossip. How you go about obtaining education about mental health and addiction can take many forms.

Individuals, friends, and family of those suffering and people who are struggling themselves can:

  • Look up information online from reputable sources
  • Talk to a wellness center like Water Gap Wellness to get information
  • Join educational groups
  • Participate in therapy
  • Read books on the subject
  • Watch documentaries from reputable sources


With that education comes a responsibility to communicate information with those who might not have it. If you are an individual struggling with addiction or mental health, you can start breaking that stigma by courageously asking for help and getting the right form of therapy or treatment.

If you are someone with a friend or family member struggling with mental illness or addiction, you can use the education you have to improve communication with them, offer support, or maybe encourage them to get help if they need it.

Even if you aren’t currently struggling with mental health issues or addiction, and you don’t know anyone who is, you can still use your education to communicate facts to those around you and ensure that more people openly talk about addiction and mental health issues, as well as treatment options.

Offer Support

The best way to reduce the stigma of addiction and mental illness is to alleviate it from your life and help alleviate it from the lives of others by offering support when and where you can. This comes down to having improved education and communicating information readily. 

If you meet someone who is in need, you can offer your support by letting them know that you won’t treat them any differently or view them any differently, but you do want what’s best for them, and that involves getting help.

Be Careful with Words

One of the more devious ways that addiction stigma permeates society and even addiction treatment is in words. Whether intentionally or not, the words used by others can have negative connotations or implications. Some examples are below:


Addict/User Person with a substance use disorder
Clean In recovery
Clean or dirty results Negative or positive results
Drug habit Addiction

How to Reduce Mental Health Stigma

When it comes to reducing mental health stigma, the steps are very similar. It’s important to educate yourself, learn about different mental health disorders, their signs and symptoms, and what treatment options are available.

Many people can benefit from participation in educational groups or information access from mental health treatment centers like Water Gap Wellness. 

With this information, you empower yourself to identify symptoms in yourself and get treatment when you need it or spread information and actionable education to those around you. Improved communication based on education could make a significant difference in someone’s life, especially if they are worried about admitting they have an addiction or mental health disorder or are apprehensive about getting help because they are fearful of social stigmas.

Mental health treatment centers like Water Gap Wellness Center offer individualized depression treatment programs for mental health. Reach out to Water Gap Wellness to learn more about reducing the stigma today.

About WGWC

Water Gap Wellness Center offers expert and compassionate treatment for mental health and substance abuse at our Pennsylvania facility, just outside New Jersey, a short drive from New York. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you today. 

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