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The Negative Effects of Labeling

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Words are powerful tools that can be used to bring about positive change, but may also be used to cause harm and destruction. Labels are an especially significant aspect of language, and are one way that our culture and society is shaped. While a label may be just a word, it is given a connotation that provokes strong emotions and changes the way we perceive people and circumstances. For people with addictions, labels can be used to dehumanize, devalue, and degrade. They are also used in a way that keeps the public from understanding the true nature of addictive substances, and creates an “us versus them” mentality. Removing a label can free a person to define themselves and their behavior, but escaping a label isn’t always easy.

Labels Spread Misinformation

Labels are often assigned to people with substance use disorders to make them seem as if they are innately different from the rest of society. For example, labels like “drunk”, “tweaker”, and “meth head” are used to make it seem as if addiction is a personality flaw. Even saying that someone has developed a drug “habit” is problematic, because it implies that addiction is a behavior that is easily changed. Once someone has been assigned one of these labels or something similar, it may be hard to escape the many associations that come with these carelessly used words.

Labels Hurt Progress

In addition to the labeling that occurs on a social level, people with addictions are also prone to label themselves in a way that is counterproductive to their recovery. For example, someone with an addiction may begin to see themselves as weak, immoral, or worthless. These labels may be perpetuated by how other people see them, and eventually people with addictions may come to believe they are incapable of change. Treatment for addiction often involves therapy and counseling that helps reverse the internalization of negative labeling, and instead allows people with substance use disorders to take back control of how they perceive themselves and their ability to add value to the world.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, now is the time to reach out for help. At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals who understand addiction in all its forms. The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan. We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit so you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us today at 844-413-2690.