Society tends to treat alcohol and drugs as separate categories, the starkest difference being the issue of legality. Alcohol is generally treated as a more acceptable substance, while the vast majority of drugs (with marijuana being a very partial and recent exception) are stigmatized. The legality of alcohol has contributed to it becoming by far the most common addiction in the United States.
The difference in social attitudes can make a significant difference in the trajectory of recovery. A heroin addict may experience rejection by society, while the alcoholic may enjoy support or at least lower levels of stigma. These dynamics mean that a hard drug user is more likely to experience devastating social consequences as a result of their maladies, such as losing careers or families. All these elements put together, mean that a drug addict (especially one dependent on “hard drugs”), may face a more difficult road to recovery than an alcoholic with a comparably severe habit.
The social stigma can also adversely affect drug addicts. Believing their problems are more serious, drug users may believe that overcoming addictions will be a more serious undertaking than it would be for their alcohol-dependent counterparts. Besides, drug users may be more concerned over the fallout of publicly admitting their addiction, due to the intense social stigma. For these reasons, social stigma may hamper the recovery of drug addicts.