Addiction and mental illnesses are highly stigmatized conditions in our culture. Negative perceptions surrounding these conditions and the side-effects of addictive behaviors can make it difficult for individuals and families to feel comfortable enough to seek the help they need. Fear and misunderstanding drive much of the negative thinking about addiction, and mental illness. Recent studies suggest the majority of Americans believe that bad decision-making causes addiction. Addiction is, in fact, a brain disease and many biological, psychological, and social factors play a role in developing and perpetuating addictive behaviors and their co-occurring mental health conditions.
The people of Futures, its alumni, and its colleagues throughout the addiction treatment field are working to dispel the myths surrounding addiction to reduce the fear that keeps many from coming forward. Change starts from within. Futures helps its clients and their loved ones better understand the disease of addiction, its causes, and the fact that the side-effects of this disease are separate from the person within suffering its effects. We also work to reduce the feelings of shame and guilt that are often experienced by people with these conditions. While making local change is important, cultural change is critical to stem rates of overdose deaths and to improve our population’s overall mental health.
Members of the Futures’ management and outreach teams speak at events around the country to increase awareness, offer help and advocate for change. Futures’ team members sit on community boards, industry panels, and volunteer organizations to speak for the rights of people in recovery and encourage greater public understanding of addiction and mental illness.