When people see someone who has had an addiction, they may picture a person who has been to various rehab centres, halfway houses and had to hit rock bottom before deciding to get treatment for their addiction.
Not all addicts have the same experience and have a similar addiction story.
Seeing addicts in a negative, stereotypical way spreads the misinformed stigma that makes it feel uneasy for addicts to be open about their struggles.
Addiction is a disease.
Representation in the media
37% of people struggling with an addiction admitted they did not consider getting help because of how people with addictions were portrayed in the media.
By pushing a negative, harmful image of people struggling with an addiction it can cause people to not want to get help because of fear of failure.
Those who struggled with addiction reported that they saw themselves in a negative light because of their addiction.
While there has been a positive shift towards how the film industry views mental health, there is still progress to be made regarding addictions.
74% of recovering addicts admitted to staying in halfway houses because of family and friends that saw their addiction in a negative way.
While changing the stigma around addiction and mental health does not only rely on the addicts – it relies on the system which is supposed to care for them.
It does show that despite the rise in former sufferers staying clean after completing treatment, there is still a harmful stigma around this.
Real-life impacts reality
People may not realise the importance that movies, TV shows and other types of media play in educating the public on serious issues.
While some people may argue it is only the job of documentaries and other non-fictional pieces of work to educate the public, people who watch TV and movies are being exposed to different types of social issues.
If people are only exposed to negative portrayals and stereotypes regarding addicts – whether they are in recovery or not – it will make the viewers subconsciously only have negative views about those who have addictions.
Instead of continuing to push the negative stereotypes and stigma around individuals who have suffered from an addiction, the entertainment industry has to do better.
By being more sensitive and understanding, it can open up a conversation between addicts and their loved ones.