Having an addiction still carries an unfortunate stigma to it. Though much has been improved in the way the medical community views addiction, as it is now considered a disease just like any other disease, there are still those in society who view addiction as a choice, a weakness, and some sort of moral failing. It is the position of Footprints and the recovery community in general that addiction ceases to be a choice once it is out of control, but the choice to get better does depend on the individual.
Because society has not fully accepted that addiction is a disease and not a choice, many former addicts who have recovered continue to cower in shame regardless of their success stories and their recognition that their addiction was not a choice. All recovering addicts should be proud of their progress in recovery, but some still struggle in deciding whether or not to be open about their journey. Here are some of the pros and cons to going public about your past struggle with addiction.
1. Pro #1: You will get it off your chest. Have you ever been at a party and had someone offer you a drink, and you awkwardly have to say no? And then they look at you kind of strangely since everyone else is drinking, and they ask more questions? Rarely does this happen, as most people are respectful of one’s choice to not drink, but there are some prodding, nosy individuals out there. Sometimes there are also employers at work who don’t understand why you aren’t indulging at a company party. It may even be expected that you drink. In these cases, sometimes honesty can be the best policy. Telling someone, “Thank you, but I don’t drink. I had a problem with drugs and alcohol and I have been sober for X amount of years,” can be scary, but empowering. It will also help to stop the prodding, the questioning, and everything else. Also, it will probably make the person bothering you about it feel embarrassed. You may be surprised at how supportive they are after your frank admission.
2.Pro # 2: You will help others unknowingly. There are millions of suffering addicts who are terrified to tell people about their addiction. They may be desperately looking for answers, attending meetings in secret, and fearful for their lives, their families and their jobs. By opening up and telling others about your experiences, they may feel confident in finally confiding in you. You have no idea how much your story may inspire them to get the help they need, and to allow them to feel free to open up to others about their struggles. It will be a huge elephant lifted off of their chests.
3.Con #1:There will be some judgment no matter what. Most people will be supportive, or at least act supportive about your experience and recovery story. Some people may react differently though. Employers and coworkers may act uneasy with you. Perhaps you won’t be invited to parties any longer where alcohol is present, even though it never presented a problem before. One of the most frustrating aspects of being honest about addiction is that well-meaning, but unhelpful individuals may refuse to drink around you or have alcohol where you are present. Treating an addict like a child can be very demeaning. If you have years of sobriety, there is no reason to be treated like you can’t handle yourself around alcohol. However, some individuals don’t understand addiction and are only trying to do what they believe is right and helpful. Being honest about your addiction can cause people to treat you differently-even when they are trying to help in the only way they know how.
4.Con #2: People gossip. When you decide to be completely honest about your experience with addiction, you have to accept the fact that gossip is bound to occur. You have to be at a point and place in your life where you truly don’t care what people say about you or what stories they bring up. Gossiping about one’s addiction is a cruel thing to do, but in the world we live in, it is bound to happen. Gossip can be confronted quickly by confronting the gossiper, if it truly bothers you. Simply say to that individual that your recovery journey has been very difficult and you hope that they understand that by talking about it behind your back, they are hurting others who are suffering from an addiction. Educate others about addiction as a disease, and how difficult your journey was towards maintaining sobriety. Usually, people who gossip will be taken aback and ashamed when confronted in an assertive manner.
Deciding to go public is a personal choice that only you can make. If you want to go public about your struggle with addiction, it is a personal choice that only the addict himself can make. One must weigh the pros and cons and decide whether or not it is best to be completely honest with others about a recovery story. In many cases, the pros outweigh the cons, but it depends on the conditions of one’s life, including employment circumstances, and family dynamics.
Do you struggle with the shame of hiding an addiction? Are you desperate to talk to someone about your need to recover from a problem with drugs and alcohol? You aren’t alone. Contact Linda Rose today at 949-558-4723 and start your roadmap towards recovery. Don’t wait to get the help you need to achieve permanent sobriety.