We treat alcohol problems discreetly

“As long as alcohol problems are a taboo subject, many people do not dare to seek help; the shame and fear of what might follow after coming out are too great. With our campaign, we want to counteract the prejudices and discrimination against addicts.

Alcohol has a firm place in our culture and is simply part of it for many, although alcohol has a high potential for addiction and harm. Depending on the amount consumed, alcohol can damage almost every organ. In addition to the physical effects, alcohol consumption is often accompanied by psychological, social or occupational impairments.

However, what should not be part of it: people with alcohol problems – those affected are condemned and disadvantaged. This is despite the fact that the stigma is not a problem created by people with an addiction, it is a societal one.

Excluded, condemned and disadvantaged – the stigmatisation of those affected has a negative impact on how patients feel and on the course of their illness. And even worse: the stigma represents an invisible and hardly surmountable hurdle when it comes to seeking professional help.

Active exclusion and condemnation of people with an addiction disorder seems to be used in our society as a kind of educational attempt: The worse we treat people with addiction problems, the sooner they should realise that their behaviour is wrong.

Yet numerous studies show: stigmatisation and exclusion are not effective solutions to addiction problems, they reinforce them and contribute to sufferers becoming even more isolated and not seeking treatment.

The consequences of this thinking are fatal, not only for those affected, but also for relatives and ultimately for society as a whole and for health care costs.”

Find more from Arud (Switzerland, October 2022). Arud is the center for addiction medicine working for people whose health is or threatens to be impaired by substance use disorders and/or behavioural addictions.

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