Addiction can be defined as many things, as can addicts. Unfortunately more often than not it is not defined for what it really is and that is a disease. Many see addiction as a personality trait or a character flaw. It can be looked upon as a reflection of the individual who suffers from it and the type of person they are. Unfortunately the stigma that is attached to this particular disease means that rehabilitation is all the more difficult. Would you want to live next door to a house full of addicts? The answer is probably no, but why not? Would you have an issue residing in a home next to a center for cancer patients, Alzheimer’s patients or people with disabilities? While many might argue that these illnesses differ considerably from that of an addicts, how can we really differentiate, a disease is a disease and the individual suffering surely deserves treatment, respect and care. If we as individuals stigmatize them and hold prejudice against them this is not possible. One argument may be that they can be erratic, unpredictable and sometimes even dangerous. But who’s to say that a person suffering from cancer, with the prospect of death looming would not behave erratically, or that an Alzheimer’s patient does not demonstrate unpredictable behavior.
It seems that while most of agree that there is a need for treatment centers that we don’t want them on our door step. A group of residents from St. George Utah have recently filed a law suit of $1 million against the CEO of Steps Recovery Center, Mike Jorgensen. The main issue among the residents was a drop in property values if the center were to open, however they do agree that there is a need for more treatment facilities in Southern Utah.
“Those people are your neighbors, they’re your kids, they are in your churches,” he said. “The people you have to worry about are the ones who aren’t in recovery and not under 24/7 supervision,” Mike Jorgensen
Unfortunately property values can decrease; however it is illegal for municipalities to reject applications for this reason. Addiction is covered under the legal definition of disability therefore addicts are protected against housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. Another center that has faced back lash from the community is Portland Metro Men’s Center. Individuals in Oregon City again agree that a lot of people need the facility but they do not want it in their community. The center is already established and undergoing plans to add a two-story dormitory. (For more Oregon treatment facilities go here https://www.drugrehabcomparison.com/dir/oregon/)
Understanding, compassion and education are key. To further stigmatize addiction is to broaden the barrier in gaining care and support. Can we as non perfect human beings decide who deserves what care and where they get it? If a neighborhood or street thought that individuals with sensory and physical disabilities was not good for their area, could they push them out and refuse them entry. If that were true where does it stop, do all individuals with any illness, disease or imperfection get treated away from the rest of us, the normal ones, the perfect ones?