, Salem, MA


April 29, 2014

Watson: An addict asks for less stigma


Bill is embarrassed by his habit. He would like to be able to seek and follow a treatment program openly — without hiding it — because he thinks that then he could successfully stay with it and the many steps, actions and meetings that it would require. If he could detox and recover openly, he could also tap many sources of support, and also continue to work.

But society today, mostly, is judgemental and harsh on heroin addicts. If he “came out,” he could lose his job, and his professional reputation. Bill became an addict through no fault of his own, but the stigma of addiction still limits his recovery options.

Bill sought me out, to write this column. He’s ready to do the hard, recovery work, but he needs our understanding of the nature of his disease, so we don’t penalize him further and counterproductively.


Brian T. Watson is a Salem News columnist. Contact him at




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