Some of the terms associated with alcoholism aren’t too complimentary – Like loser, thief, jaikie, lowlife, scrounger, tramp, liar. It can be a lot to take if you are the loved one of someone with an alcohol dependency.
We will go on to discuss the effect this can have on the family but meantime, check out our myth busters page here to pick up the facts that will help you to challenge some of these terms and educate those who are misinformed.
What is Stigma?
Stigma is defined in the Oxford dictionary as a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.
The impact on the family:
Families and friends often struggle when it comes to the stigma associated with alcohol dependency. A lot of this stigma stems from misunderstandings around and perceptions of the term alcoholic.
Alcohol dependency is long associated with mental heath, however someone branding themselves as having an alcohol problem will receive a very different response to someone saying they have a mental health problem.
“The impact of a person’s alcohol use can have a negative impact on the family member’s social life, leading to increasing isolation, which may be exacerbated by the feelings of guilt and shame that families often feel.”
This can lead to:
- Isolation: Family members often avoid judgement, shame or embarrassment by avoiding people. They can often conceal their relatives situation for fear of a negative reaction.
- Permanence: People often perceive that once labelled as an alcoholic, that the title will stick with them and those they care about.
- Concealment: Often family members feel it important to help conceal the addiction, often putting unrealistic pressures and expectations on themselves.
Why is this an issue?
In its latest Annual Review of its 2010 Drug Strategy, the Government reaffirmed its commitment to challenging the stigma associated with dependence which it recognises as a barrier to an individual’s successful recovery.
If you can relate to this issue, you can find out more on the adfam website.