Welcome to the blog for Free Your Mind mental health anti-stigma campaign

This is the blog for the Free Your Mind campaign which aims to battle stigma towards mental illness through the use of music, art, film, and culture.
The blog consists of informative and, hopefully, entertaining articles/posts.
Enjoy! :-)

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Drug Addiction and Stigma (+ my experiences with both)

Drug addiction is an illness, which can – often, but certainly not always – accompany other mental illnesses; particularly those mental health conditions associated with impulsivity, such as my own diagnosis of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder).

Drug addiction comes attached with its own batch of stigma; and, often, when a person is struggling with addiction, this can be perceived by others – particularly those who know of their addiction - as their one and only defining feature, for which they can be demonised for.

Common perception of a drug addict is that of that of a person whom is ‘immoral’ and 'a danger to society’; and, although, some may turn to crime to feed a habit, the image of the “immoral addict” is – in most cases – untrue, with its basis in prejudice.

Drug addiction is generally highly stigmatised due to the (mistaken) perception that, not only is an addict dangerous, but that they are the ones responsible for their problems - i.e. their addiction is self-inflicted.

But this stigmatisation is damaging; and, it is a large factor in contributing towards a person hiding their addiction, as well as keeping them in denial.

I’d like to take you back for a moment to FYM’s previous blog post in which I wrote about my most recent stay on a psychiatric ward, where I felt I’d been “over-medicated” and felt angry at the drug therapy I received whilst in hospital.

I didn’t, however, make it clear in my last blog post that this anger stemmed from my own ongoing struggles with drug addiction (and my addictions in general; self-harm included), and from my feelings that compliance with some of the (compulsory) medication is detrimental  to the likelihood of me making a successful recovery.

My appearance has become dishevelled of late, my skin is pale, and my eyes appear heavy; ongoing life-problems and mental health problems have taken their toll and it shows in my appearance.

Most of the prescribed medication makes my pupils dilate – so, although, it is apparent I am “on” a drug, it would be impossible to know which one - which sends out the image associated with the perception of the “immoral addict”, particularly to those who do not know me.  (The dilation of my pupils are due to compliance with medication; although, I have now requested to not be prescribed any addictive or dependency inducing drugs.)

However, this perceived image of me could not be further from the truth. And, the stigma displayed by strangers on the street – passers-by who pre-judge and making discriminatory comments – seems to be more persistent and is affecting me more than usual at this period when I am most sensitive.

Despite my ongoing struggles with addiction it is by no means a defining characteristic – everyday is a continuing battle with addiction, one in which I will persevere in fighting – but,  as I have written about previously on this blog, my illness does not define me.

Drug addiction is highly stigmatised due to a number of reasons, including, the taboos surrounding drugs and drug use, the perception that a drug addict is immoral, and the perception that a drug addict is responsible for their own plight.

But, like all stigma, the stigmatisation of drug addiction is damaging. Demonising a person purely on the basis of their illness seems thoughtless, and can cause hurt and pain to a person whom is already suffering.


  1. I admire you for sharing your experiences as a former drug addict. I hope many people can read this article and learn from your experience. This can remind everyone to be compassionate to people suffering from addiction rather than condemn them. This can also enlighten drug addicts that a good life awaits them after rehabilitation.

    Owen Lowe

  2. Ive just found your blog after answering you on digital spy! My name is Jane (Ella on DS) what an amazing site to find as i feel completely on my own as a recovering addict/alcoholic and i also suffer with mental illness i look forward to read more of this blog but time for bed now, one day at a time ,Jane ��

  3. Agree with you. The most important thing to understand is... Addiction is a disease. If a person has cancer, we don’t blame the him/her. We get help instead. The best help available.

    This is one of those blogs that must be read for info about how to get sober

  4. You are to be commended for your attitude of perseverance in fighting through the battle of drug addiction and seeking recovery from it. Each person who is willing to share their story helps to break down the barrier that the stigma of drug addiction has built.