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Stephanie discusses recovering from addiction as part of the State Without StigMA campaign.

“I really felt the stigma of addiction. I mean from everybody. I wouldn’t go to the hospital, just because I knew that as soon as I got there, as soon as they looked at my chart and saw that I had a history of heroin addiction or saw the abscess in my arm, I was instantly labeled a ‘junkie.’ I was left in the hallway for hours, asking for a glass of water. I would be ignored for hours. Even when I went there for something that had nothing to do with pain and I wasn’t requesting pain medication, they would automatically think that’s why I was there and tell me, even before I said anything, ‘Don’t think you’re getting any narcotics from us.’ It’s debilitating. It kept me, for a long time anyway, from getting treatment. I was afraid that everybody would think I was a junkie and a disgusting, dirty person. You know that language — clean or dirty. Even the word addict has so many connotations to it that it’s just sad. It’s killing people. It’s literally killing people because it perpetuates the stigma and it prevents people from getting treatment.”

This is the first post in our InCommon series, which spotlights people who have made use of state services, as well as those who provide them. Stay tuned for more stories from Commonwealth employees and Massachusetts residents, and tweet us yours @MassGov.

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