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Ben Affleck’s Statement on Getting Treated for Addiction – And Why it Matters at Work

On Tuesday, March 14th, 2017, American actor and filmmaker, Ben Affleck, sparked national conversation after making a statement that he recently completed treatment for an alcohol addiction. Since going public with this information, Affleck’s news has been gaining nationwide attention, sparking conversation about addiction and recovery across the country.

His statement was originally posted to his Facebook page:

“I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront. I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step. I’m lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I’ve done the work I set out to do. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery.”

His statement is powerful and honest.

Why is it Important to Have Well-Known Voices Speaking Up?

Over the last few years, more people have been speaking up and sharing their personal stories of addiction recovery – Hollywood included. Musician Macklemore has long been an advocate and an open voice for his struggles with addiction – releasing a powerful music video for the song ‘Drug Dealer’ in 2016, and actress and recovery advocate, Demi Lovato, recently announced 5 years sober.

Right now, more than 22 million people are struggling with addiction. Due to a deficit in available treatment services, as well as a lack of funding, only about 10% of those struggling receive help. Additionally, more than 50,000 people are estimated to lose their lives every year due to the sweeping opioid epidemic that is rattling our nation.

It matters because people are dying; it matters because stigma keeps so many silent; it matters because recovery is real, and the story doesn’t have to end here.

A Pulse on Stigma

A 2016 study sampled over 480 people, discovering that – aside from financial constraints and denial – the third largest barrier to getting treatment for substance use disorder was stigma associated with addiction. Words like junkie, druggie, deadbeat and more – along with other social assumptions about addiction – keep many people in silent shame, not speaking up, not getting help.

Thankfully, people have started to speak up. Organizations large and small are offering hope to those in need, advocating at the county and state levels – a movement that has sparked conversation. This conversation has begun to normalize addiction to be regarded similarly to other health conditions like cancer and diabetes.

And this conversation is of critical importance, not just in broader context, but in the workforce, too.

The Importance of Ending Stigma at Work

By normalizing the conversation surrounding addiction, people can start to feel less fear when they need to get treated for addiction. In the professional sector, this can be especially difficult – fears of losing a job over addiction, knowledge of past or present rehab involvement and the societal stigma within the walls of our companies can be especially difficult for those struggling or in recovery to face.

We wouldn’t be afraid our job would be in jeopardy for an “acceptable” health condition, but many are afraid to talk about addiction – either the help they may need or the triumph they’ve accomplished. Both are worthy of acceptance, time and respectful attention.

With well-known names like Ben Affleck, Macklemore, Demi Lovato and the millions of others in recovery that diligently share their stories, the needle is beginning to move, if anything, showing others that they are not alone. Their story is not uncommon and it does not disqualify them from success, fame, happiness or joy.

Addiction doesn’t discriminate, recovery is real, and it can transcend into all areas of our society – work included, and often, our careers can benefit greatly from the power of recovery.

Affleck is just one of the estimated 23 million people reported to be in recovery today. But his story is meaningful – meaningful because one story, when coupled with advocacy and the momentum of social movements – has the power to eradicate stigma, normalize the conversation, and continue advancing a movement out to save millions of lives from the grips of addiction.

And for many in the walls of our corporations and workplaces, ending stigma means confidently bringing recovery into all areas of life, with no shame or fear that this disclosure will disqualify ambitions, promotions or fulfilling careers. This goal is worthy of pursuing, and one that is only made stronger with every voice – especially national ones – that continue to proclaim the reality of recovery and its value to family, society, workplace and soul.

Thank you, Ben Affleck.



Images Courtesy of iStock

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