Following the first presidential debate of 2020, numerous actors and artists decided to use their social media platforms to speak up against drug addiction being brought up as a tool to cause shame.
Actress, producer, and director, Elizabeth Banks, well known for roles in blockbuster films such as The Hunger Games series and Pitch Perfect, spoke up against the president attacking his opponent’s son for his struggles with a substance use disorder. Award-winning actor and producer Mark Ruffalo, who has been internationally acclaimed for his roles in multiple Marvel movies as Hulk, also resorted to social media to express his disappointment for seeing substance abuse being brought up in the middle of an official political discussion to cause shame. The actor highlighted that he would not like to be living in the US when a person who is struggling with drug addiction is shamed because of their battles.This comes at a time when actors and actresses have been increasingly vocal about their personal experiences with substance abuse in different ways. Many well-known artists have also been open about how they have managed to achieve sobriety and struggled to find the most adequate type of addiction treatment services. For instance, Star Trek actor Jason Isaac who is also known for roles in Harry Potter publicly stated that he was under the impression he was broken while trying to gain control of his addiction. During the recent statement, the actor added that he had reached a point where he could not care about those around him or to anyone who insisted he quit abusing illicit substances. The recent event in which a person’s substance use disorder was brought up in a way to cause shame doesn’t only seem to goes against the tide of voices that have been raised together to normalize how common addiction is. The recent event also clashes with the many movements launched — by public figures, national organizations, and educational institutions — in the past few years that seek to end the stigma of substance use disorders. Addiction is a treatable disease, but the stigma that most people struggling with the condition encounter, leads to loneliness and embarrassment, which pushes people away from seeking treatment and openly addressing their problem. This isolation often leads individuals to overdose and the tragedies may come as a shock to their loved ones. Thus, stigma kills. While the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, the number of opioid overdoses continues to go up. Substance abuse has also risen and relapses of drug use have been increasing too. Consequently, ending the stigma that surrounds drug and alcohol addiction should continue to be prioritized by all of us.