Stigma of Addiction and How to Change It

Historically, addiction has been a quiet, hidden tormentor. It silently took its victims into their graves without ever bearing a burden of responsibility. Why? Because of the stigma of addiction.

Because no husband wants to tell the world that the mother of his children was a “junkie”.  No mother wants to reveal to the tennis club and the PTA that her son overdosed on heroin. Nobody wants to “dishonor” the memory of the deceased by tainting their legacy with words like “opioid,” “overdose,” or “heroin.”

However, brave families are starting to be frank in the obituaries they write. Not to dishonor their deceased loved ones, but to sound the alarm, to call others to action, to open peoples’ eyes.

The parents of a young man in New Jersey published the following in the obituary of their son: “our beautiful son, Andrew, died from an overdose of heroin. He was 23 years old. We want to share his story in the hope that lives may be saved and his death will not be in vain.”

Hundreds of other families are following suit, sharing the stories of relapses, treatment centers, overdoses, heartache, that created years of struggle for their lost loved ones. Together, they are shattering the stigma of addiction.

Obituaries of opioid epidemic victims have become cautionary tales that have the potential to save lives.  These families are ushering in a new era, when people’s obituaries will begin with, “After a brave battle with addiction,” just as they would with cancer, heart disease, or any other chronic illness.


Read here to learn more about overcoming misconceptions about addiction.