Reduction in stigma enriches hope in recovery, purpose and reintegration

Person who experiences stigma suffers social isolation, rejections, lack of support, poor mental health and self-denial, Stigma further affects the place of self-esteem; this summarily hinders the recovery process from substance abuse. It further complicates the prospects of reintegration One John (not real name) had this to say: “because of drug abuse, all my family members did not trust me: I used to steal their money, phones and anything that can be sold so that I can buy more drugs and take alcohol as much as I can, sleep with girls who are also addicted like me”.

Rejection or isolation of our loved ones due to drug, alcohol or sex abuse cannot be the best option as this may complicate their life further. Let us remember that sometimes the environment created by the family members is significantly conducive and very tempting so much so that the young ones get themselves challenged and start building basic but dangerous habits, subsequently, leading to addiction.

The question we should sometimes ask is, what caused our own son or daughter, and loved one to become a victim of substance abuse? What did we do to prevent our own son or daughter, brother, sister from substance abuse? If we do not invest in the recovery of our own family member struggling with substance abuse, what will happen to them? Is it justified to isolate them? Is there no better way to help them?

According to weekly reports of Purpose Rwanda, at least 3 to 6 persons struggling with substance abuse receive individual counseling. Overtime, most of the beneficiaries have struggled with the effects of stigma. However, they reported reduction in stigma from their family and members of the community over the past three to four months. They attributed the reduction in stigma was as a result of the positive direction they have taken: attending to Purpose Rwanda services, visibly demonstrating change in character and physical appearance owed to the encouragement given by Purpose Rwanda Counselors and Preachers towards living a life free from addiction.

Reduction in stigma has far reaching impact in the life of a person recovering from substance abuse in the following ways:

1.Increased enthusiasm: Reduced stigma can help addicts feel less judged and more accepted, leading to a greater hope for the future and willingness to engage in more individual counseling sessions. This is because they know the counseling session they get helps them think better, it’s form of empowerment, here they is aspect of knowledge accumulation. All these amounts into motivation towards getting rehabilitated and leading a healthy life.

2. Improved self-esteem: Reduced stigma may make a person struggling with substance abuse experience an increase in self-esteem and self-worth, making them more hopeful in life. It may make them set goals and work towards achieving them. It further makes them to belief in their ability to overcome challenges and make positive changes in their live. Reduction in stigma faced by a person struggling with substance abuse helps to build some strength to resist temptation, cope with stress and maintain a sense of worthiness and self-respect during recovery process. Purpose Rwanda Councilors regularly observe and acknowledge that these are factual from their interactions with beneficiaries who do not miss group counseling besides the individual counseling as well as spiritual services done every Wednesday.

Purpose Rwanda Counselor offering counseling service

3. Enhanced trust: When stigma is reduced, individuals struggling with addiction may feel more trusting of counselors and the rehabilitation process, facilitating a more effective counseling relationship. This offers critical validation, support and motivation to help the individual to remain committed to the recovery journey. Here an individual is more inclined to work towards healing and growth. One of Purpose Rwanda beneficiaries had this to say: “people used not to greet me, neglect me but nowadays, they have changed, they talk to me, greet me since I have started receiving Purpose Rwanda services and am healing”- C.M.

4. Better outcomes: Accepting individual counseling without fear of stigma can lead to better treatment outcomes: In this perspective, an individual is prepared mentally and emotionally to heal. This is a crucial indicator that the desired outcome will and can be achieved. Better outcome is also an indication that what works for an individual especially in the case of healing from addiction after receiving counseling also works for others. A better outcome in this case is significant for the family and the community. One life saved impacts significantly on the lives of many in various ways: mental and physical wellness, improved quality of life and productivity. Improved productivity is linked to increase in access to goods and services while other things remain constant.
Purpose Rwanda Counselor offering counseling service

5. Long-term recovery support: Overcoming stigma can encourage addicts to continue seeking help and support even after completing counseling. To make this more practical, Purpose Rwanda offers an opportunity for the recovered to undergo training and mentorship sessions. This is meant to prepare them for reintegration and participation in socio-economic development in the community, thereby, contributing to their long-term recovery and well-being. Long-term recovery support such as ongoing peer support, accountability and sense of community help persons who struggled from substance abuse cope up with new realities of life. The core idea of supposing recovered beneficiaries undertake skill-building is to help them towards self-sufficiency and to build a fulfilling life in recovery.

In the final analysis, together we can build a Purposeful and Addiction Free Generation, leading to sustained socio-economic development and poverty eradication.