According to a survey funded by the Canadian Medical Association, only one in five Canadians is willing to socialize with somebody addicted to drugs or alcohol. The findings of the survey show that there is still a social stigma placed against substance abusers and people are still not too keen on the thought of being associated with someone struggling with this problem.
The online survey included 2,024 residents who were asked to answer questions pertinent to their perception of drug abuse. Less than half of the respondents consider substance addiction as a type of mental illness. And only a few also believe that having a mental disorder “isn’t always real and is sometimes used as an excuse for bad behavior.” However, fifteen percent of the respondents claim to have been diagnosed of depression at some point in their lives.
According to David Goldbloom, MD, the findings and opinions that came out through the survey on the subject of addiction seem to manifest “an almost religious judgment of people involved with alcohol or drugs as sinners.” Goldbloom is a senior medical adviser at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.
In spite of the fact that only one in five respondents will willingly socialize with a person who has an addiction problem, fifty percent feels okay about marrying or being associated with someone with a mental disorder. Interestingly , “one in four respondents is still afraid to be around someone with a serious mental illness.”
The problem is many people are still unwilling to classify mental illness as a real malady when in fact it is just as real as stomach pain or any other physical affliction. Mental health commissioner Michael Kirby says that this perception towards the mentally ill is practically the same as what AIDS patients had to deal when the disease was first made popular. An individual who comes clean and says he has HIV can send people around him treating him like he has a really contagious disease.
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