Only a fraction of the people who need treatment for addiction receive help, largely because of the immense stigma of addiction. In this respect, stigma costs lives.

Public education can help people to understand that addiction is a treatable illness, not a moral failing. Much as society has reduced the stigma of illnesses such as leprosy and cancer, the stigma of addiction can be overcome.

By openly advocating for policy changes and the rights of addicted people, friends and family of addicted people can join with people in recovery to overcome the shame associated with this illness.

Recovery advocates have organized across the country to support the efforts of people in long-term recovery to lead productive lives. Antidiscrimination laws protect people recovering from addiction as they seek employment, education, housing and services. Learn what steps to take if you feel you've been a victim of discrimination.

Most people with addiction have jobs. Employers can save on healthcare and lost productivity costs by improving the access of employees to quality addiction treatment.