Removing the stigma of drug addiction

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Removing the stigma of drug addiction

We look at drug addicts as if they are bad people. They commit crimes. They look like they are bad people. They do all these morally reprehensible things. As a parent, my son lied to me. He broke into our home. He broke into our friends´ homes. So we judge addicts as bad people who have no self control, they don´t care about anybody else but themselves, except for being high, but they are not bad people. They are ill and they have a disease. And when we understand that people are ill, we stop judging them. And what do we do? We know what to do. We have to get them help for their disease. As more and more people understand that addicts are ill, we will change a culture that keeps this problem hidden, we don´t talk about to one that is prominent in our minds and we are no longer shaming people who are sick. And so, when we are no longer shaming people who are sick, we are going to get them help earlier. They are going to not keep their problem hidden. They are going to come for help earlier before it gets to the point where they are committing crimes. It will change everything. The stigma around drug addiction is I think the most harmful force that we have to overcome.

Watch David Sheff's video on Removing the stigma of drug addiction...


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David Sheff


David Sheff is the author of Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy, the follow-up to his New York Times #1 bestseller, Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s AddictionClean is the result of the years Sheff spent investigating the disease of addiction and America’s drug problem, which he sees as the greatest public-health challenge of our time.

Beautiful Boy was based on Sheff’s article, “My Addicted Son,” which appeared in the New York Times Magazine and won an award from the American Psychological Association for “outstanding contribution to the understanding of addiction.”  It was named the nonfiction book of the year by Entertainment Weekly.  

Named to the Time 100, Time Magazine’s list of the World’s Most Influential People, Sheff also won the 2013 College of Problems on Drug Dependence Media Award. Sanjay Gupta, MD, said, "As a clear-eyed chronicler of addiction, David is without peer.”

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