Discouraging judgement of addicts

March 8, 2016

addicts and judgementAddiction GP Julian Fidge characterises addiction as “a common, debilitating psychiatric condition”. This assessment is supported in The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual, which lists both Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and Alcohol Use Disorder as mental illnesses.

Aside from SUD, drug addicts often suffer with a second, underlying mental illness. Experiences of childhood domestic violence or sexual abuse are extremely common in adult drug users. Many adults who become addicted to drugs are attempting to cover up the pain of childhood trauma.

Despite this, addiction is still widely considered to be a symptom of some sort of intrinsic moral failing. This characterisation harks back to the long-since superseded moral model of addiction, which depicted drug users as irrevocably weak-willed and morally compromised.

Aside from no longer being relevant, this mode of thinking is extremely harmful, as it acts as the catalyst for widespread stigma against drug addicts.

Evidence of stigma is everywhere. Google-image search “drug addict”, and you’ll be met with a gallery of the dirty and depraved, sprawled across gutters and in alleyways, clutching at bloodied syringes. To read more click here.

The 3rd Annual Australian and New Zealand Eating Disorders and Obesity Conference; Issues of the current day will be held at Mantra on View, Gold Coast from the 16 – 17 May 2016. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.

The Conference, hosted by the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association, will include workshops, presentations and forums dedicated to sharing skills and understanding in the treatment of all addictive disorders, including alcohol and other drugs, behavioural addictions, and the emerging field of online compulsive behaviour in both adults and children.

A priority aim of this Conference will also be to deepen our understanding around the interrelationship of addictive disorders between each other, as well as with mental health, family, community, and culture.

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