People who need treatment often don’t seek out help because they fear stigma
Amanda Dick, who’s being treated for drug use, says she might have got help sooner if not for the stigma of being labelled an “addict.”
“It makes you feel like a stereotype … stealing, crime, lying — all sorts of things,” said Dick, 36, of Brampton, Ont.
Many medical professionals agree that the language around addiction can affect a person’s recovery, and there is a push to adopt terms that are less dismissive and more human.
Dick was in her mid-20s, working full-time as a medical administrator and living with her mother, when she began experimenting with cocaine and heroin. She became ill and thought she had the flu, until a friend told her she was experiencing symptoms of withdrawal.
“At that point I was absolutely terrified that anyone would ever find out,” she said.
“It’s still very shameful, and I think a lot of people are very hesitant to seek help and treatments because there’s this perception that you’re a bad person.”