Our family decided to start the nonprofit, Families Against the Stigma of Addiction, because we believe that stigma kept Chris from seeking help and from receiving adequate treatment. We believe that addiction is a disease and people who are addicted should be treated with respect and given the best treatment possible. Chris hid his addiction from his family for years because he was ashamed. He also believed that at some point we knew but chose not to talk about it. Chris told me that his friends who knew he was addicted looked down on him. When I found Chris using a needle (heroin), I took him to the ER. Chris asked me if we should really tell doctors that he was addicted to drugs.
Stigma plays an important role in the lack of help for people who are addicted. We want to educate the medical community, law enforcement and society as a whole so that people who are addicted to drugs will not be afraid or ashamed to seek help and so that the medical community will view addiction as a disease and will give these people the same effective treatment that they would give anyone with a disease. We hope that law enforcement will become aware that putting these people behind bars is not the solution and that mandatory inpatient drug treatment programs that lasts for years rather than a few weeks is a better alternative. Our vision is that society as a whole will treat them with respect and will become aware that addiction is a disease. There is hope for long term recovery if we can all give positive support. We also hope to change laws that would help adequate treatment become available. Our organization wants to increase the percentage of those who recover.