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Skip Bayless and the Addiction Stigma

drug addiction stigma

Skip Bayless Shows Ignorance, Calls Manziel “an Alcoholic”

What do we mean when we say someone is an alcoholic? ESPN TV personality Skip Bayless stirred up controversy by calling Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Johnny Manziel an alcoholic, thus proving that the term may have some baggage in many people’s minds.


The conversation reads:

“‘[Stephen A.] Smith: You’re essentially telling me that you believe that Johnny Manziel is an alcoholic and a liar? Is that correct?

“‘Bayless: I do. Yes I do. He has a problem—if you want to call him an alcoholic, I’ll go that far. I think he can’t handle his alcohol.'”


Alcoholic: A Word Full of Meaning

While it would be easy to dismiss Bayless as just another TV personality trying to stir up controversy and get YouTube views, this controversy shows that people take the word alcoholic very seriously. Otherwise, this wouldn’t have been a controversy in the first place.


Bayless demonstrates the stigma that still remains around alcoholism and getting treatment in today’s society. The conversation between these two talk show hosts sounds like a witch hunt designed to destroy Manziel’s career and reputation. It’s clearly not a mature conversation about getting treatment for a disease.

Diabetes is comparable to alcoholism because both are a medical disease with a behavioral element. Yet no one points out that some of the ESPN commentators should probably stop eating so much if they want their diabetes to stay in check.


Alcoholic Doesn’t Mean “Liar”

As you can see in the conversation, Bayless also suggested that Manziel was a liar, another common association people have with people who have substance abuse problems. But what about all the people out there who are high-functioning addicts? Some estimates show that up to 50% of addicts are the high-functioning variety. They are not the lying, thieving, untrustworthy characters some people want us to believe they are.


Mature Medical Information Fights Ignorance

Comments like Bayless’ just add gasoline to the fire of misinformation and the stigma that exists around addiction. The tragic thing is that these types of comments may end up fueling Manziel’s addiction, if it actually exists.

Getting mature, accurate information about addiction and disease is the best way to keep people from feeling fear about their recovery and shame about their disease. If you’re looking for helpful addiction treatment information, contact Banyan Treatment Center today to speak to addiction professionals.

Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.