As recently as 2014, a study at Johns Hopkins University found that people with substance use disorders were significantly more susceptible to negative stereotypes than people with other forms of mental illness.
That public stigma is increasingly harder to maintain, however, thanks to popular social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which are reinventing the ways we talk about addiction.
It’s easy to stigmatize people with addiction when you don’t know them, or when their struggles are hidden and out of view, but when addiction shows up in your Facebook feed as a personal post, the disease suddenly has a name and a face and is visible, maybe for the first time.
To her point, status updates and comments on Facebook are, in effect, fluid, open diaries written in real-time by those in the trenches of addiction, whether celebrating another day sober, dispatching a cry for help or grieving the loss of a friend to overdose.
That relates to another trend regarding how social networking tools like Facebook are changing the conversation regarding addiction.
One case in point is the photo taken last year of two heroin users in a car, having just overdosed as their four-year-old child looked on from the backseat.