Social picture of addiction

  • on 25th August 2019

What the social environment of an addicted person thinks about the possibility of getting out of addiction and what methods of dealing with this problem they deem legitimate affects the type of support provided, and thus the specific behavior of addicts.

Each type of addiction has some stereotypical images of addicts that appear in front of people’s eyes when we ask them about a person who is addicted to a specific substance. And regardless of whether this picture is filled with a vision of a blue-eyed school-age girl, a celebrity intoxicated not only by fame and success, or a total human wreck, in most situations this is not the image that each of us sees, looking in the mirror. addiction treatment in Cape Town.The reflection that addiction can happen to someone who thinks, feels and looks just like we do comes extremely rarely.

The image of addiction functioning in the immediate environment of an addicted person creates a framework for the process of changing addictive behavior and facilitates or hinders the initiation of this change. How society in general – and the social environment of an addict in particular – thinks about addiction and addicts, how they perceive the risk of particular substances or behaviors, who they bear responsibility for the problem, what they think about the ability to deal with this problem and what methods of dealing with this problem are considered legitimate – all this affects both the content of the social response to the individual experience of addiction (from support to rejection), as well as the specific tangible behavior of addicts related to attempts to recover from addiction and seeking (or not) help . Therefore, the social context of addiction, including the social perception of the process of dealing with addiction, is of great importance for a person struggling with this problem.

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Stigmatization is another important factor shaping the social picture of addiction. Regardless of a few reflexes of health care in Poland in the last few decades, regardless of the changing paradigms of addiction, the process of overcoming it is burdened with a huge moral burden. Research shows that the stigma of addiction, especially drug addiction, is extremely strong and persistent, and has a huge impact on people experiencing problems associated with the abuse of psychoactive substances. Perhaps this is due to the fact that self-control is invariably an important social value.

Sometimes we do not remember that getting out of addiction does not take place in a clinical vacuum, that patients come to the therapist’s office not only with a baggage of problems and experiences, but also with specific visions of what they think (or their environment) can be with this problem do. The opinion of the environment is extremely important; the content of beliefs about addiction and the recovery process shared by loved ones in the environment of the addicted person affects the type of support that patients receive in the treatment process, can also explain the reasons why the addict does not receive such support.

Meanwhile, our knowledge about the picture of addiction in various socio-cultural contexts is still insufficient. For this reason, the purpose of the study presented in the article was to learn about the social perception of addiction to various substances and behaviors in Poland and thus to provide knowledge about the processes related to the social definition, understanding and categorization of addiction.

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In recent years, we have been observing a declining faith in expert knowledge, growing frustration related to the functioning of healthcare systems, and declining confidence in medical professions. Social research shows that a significant proportion of people experiencing problems resulting from substance abuse or addiction deal with them on their own, without the support of professionals, but using resources related to broadly understood social capital. In a very general sense, in our study, we tried to find out whether Polish society is conducive to the process of getting out of addiction, regardless of whether this process takes place within the addiction treatment system or outside it. Therefore, we posed two basic research questions: (a) Do Poles perceive the use of various psychoactive substances as bearing the risk of addiction? (b) What are the Poles’ social beliefs about the chances of overcoming addiction with the help of medicine or with their own strength?

The data presented in the article was collected in March 2013 using the CATI method. 1000 telephone interviews were carried out on a nationwide representative research sample (RDD – Random Digit Dial sampling) of adult Poles (18-70 years old), which was controlled in terms of sex, age, level of education and place of residence. In order to ensure the methodological correctness of the data collection process, a dozen or so interviewers – employed in a professional research agency and experienced in conducting CATI telephone interviews – were subjected to several hours of training conducted by a research team from the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology.

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