Why is the Media Portrayal of Opioid Treatment Important?

When it comes to the media portrayal of opioid treatment, it is key to recovering addicts for other people to understand exactly why this is an important topic. So often, we see the media portray people suffering from addiction as people of low moral standards, poor character or having no sense of responsibility in their lives. What’s worse is when people actually do get help for their opioid addiction by taking advantage of medicated-assisted treatment, they are further portrayed as someone who is exchanging one drug for another, not really trying to get sober or taking advantage of the medicated-assisted treatment system to find a way to keep taking drugs. Does this sound familiar?

Media Portrayal of Opioid Treatment Myth that Abstinence is the Only Way

For so long, the idea has existed that complete cold-turkey abstinence is the only way to become sober from a drug or alcohol addiction. How can you be trying to get sober, if you are still taking “replacement” drugs? While total detox and abstinence may work for some people, it does not work for everybody. That is why this media portrayal of opioid treatment causes many problems for people trying to get sober. If they keep failing at complete cold-turkey abstinence, they may eventually give up all hope and effort, not knowing that there are other options available.

Medicated-Assisted Treatment and Detox

Opioids can be one of the hardest substances to become sober from. Withdrawal symptoms can last weeks or even months. It can be a painful process, one that can surely deter people from getting the help that they so desperately need in fear of getting through it.

That is why being able to take advantage of medicated-assisted detox is so important. It allows the body to slowly readjust to its normal state while being tapered off of opioids. For so long, opioids were being provided to the body through substances so the body has stopped producing its own. This dependence needs to be readjusted, and medicated-assisted treatment helps the body do just that.

Instead of feeling debilitating withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings, the body is comfortably readjusted as the drugs are slowly weaned out of the system. Even people who are prescribed opioid medication and do not have an addiction are slowly tapered off – why shouldn’t people who are actually suffering from addiction?

The Stigma of Drug Addiction

As mentioned, people who suffer from addiction are so often portrayed as having low moral standards, being violent, homeless or mentally unstable. While some of these are side-effects of addiction and a co-occurring disorder, it also creates a stigma. This stigma is that people suffering from addiction have continued to choose to live their life this way and are undeserving of sympathy or compassion. This can cause many people to hide their addiction or refuse help, which could eventually kill them. If the media were to portray the side of addiction that shows people who are sick and need help, it might not be this way.

Representation in the Media Portrayal of Opioid Treatment

For so long, Hollywood has portrayed people suffering from addiction as “crazy” or “unstable”. The media portrayal of opioid treatment needs to change to represent exactly who opioids can affect – and that means everybody.

What is Representation?

Representation is extremely important in the media so that stigmas are not created. People enjoy seeing someone who looks like them on TV. It brings them comfort, and like they are accepted into society. For example, according to Healthline, the average woman is 5 foot 4 inches and 170.6 pounds. However, the only women we see in the media are 5’10” and under 130 pounds. This gives the average woman a completely unattainable standard to achieve, and one that does not represent the average person. This is why it is so important to start portraying the average person in the media.

The same train of thought applies to the media portrayal of opioid treatment. If the only people being represented are the ones who are taking advantage of the medicated-assisted treatment system, then no one will believe the people who actually do need it for help. This causes people to not be taken seriously or accepted into society.

About Pinelands Recovery Center

Making the decision to get help and receive opioid treatment is a difficult decision, one reason being the stigma or media portrayal that comes along with it. It is extremely important for the media to start representing opioid treatment accurately and respectfully since addiction is a chronic and fatal disease. People opting not to get help because they are embarrassed or ashamed is thanks to only the media – and this needs to change.

Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford is widely known as one of New Jersey’s finest, most respected addiction treatment facilities. With comfortable 30-bed accommodations and 24-hour professional staff, we can offer clients a serene, relaxing environment amid the lush piney woods. This stress-free setting with its sense of warmth and welcoming enables you to feel comfortable and confident about your clean and sober life ahead.

We will establish clear goals, both general in nature and specific to your needs. We continue to monitor those goals, to make sure that our clients are progressing and buying into their recovery plan. We thrive on assisting clients in feeling connected to the recovery community, share and demonstrate effective coping techniques, help clients to modify attitudes and patterns of behavior and everything else you will need to be happy and productive living a sober, healthy life.

We ensure that clients complete their planned concrete tasks, encourage hope, optimism and healthy living. Our recovery program is not a revolving door treatment program; it is a recovery model designed to help clients go on to lead productive, happy lives. For more information, visit pinelandsrecovery.com