When you’re an addict or an alcoholic, you are immediately met with shame, stigma, and stereotype. Addiction and alcoholism is a personal journey on which nobody deserves the right to comment. Here are some examples of what you might have to “deal” with and what you need to remember when you do.
- People won’t believe you’re really “sick”: In accordance to certain laws, addiction and alcoholism have to be regarded as medical conditions. They are disorders, often referred to as diseases. Whether or not people think you are “sick” and have a right to take care of your mental health is none of their business. The people who do have to care, like insurance providers and treatment providers are required to by law. You know what it is like to live with addiction. Now you know what it is like to live in recovery. You’re doing it one day at a time to get well.
- People will try to make you feel guilty about becoming an addict or alcoholic: How could you have done this to your life and the people who love you, many will ask. It’s easier for people who don’t understand to focus on addiction, and your past with addiction, than the present. Presently, you’re in treatment, working on yourself, and building a life of recovery. You’ve dealt with enough guilt for the things you’ve done, which is why you’re working on forgiveness and making amends. Addiction is not a crime. You are not a criminal for becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. That being said, you don’t have to be punished for being an addict. Especially considering you are beating the odds as one of few who go to treatment and choose recovery.
- People will want an explanation. Our liquor was but a symptoms, the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous writes. Often it is said the reason addicts and alcoholics turn to drugs and alcohol is because they like the “effects produced”. You certainly didn’t turn back time after time because you didn’t like it. For many people, that only happens at the end. In the end, when your tolerance is sky high, your body is sick from chemical dependency, and you cannot get high any longer, yet you have to keep trying- that’s not enjoyable. Every other time in which euphoria is produced and physical sensations are experienced, there was a reason. However, the reason is never the drugs and alcohol itself. Typically, there are underlying issues like past traumas, co-occurring mental health disorders, or other predispositions which lead you down this path. Why did you become addicted in the first place? When you are asked this question, challenge people to ask you about your recovery instead. Why are you sober? Why do you stick to recovery? Why do you want to change? These are the true messages of recovery.
When you enter recovery, you become part of a community where everyone is an advocate. By carrying the message of recovery, you speak for addicts and alcoholics everywhere, fighting against the stigma of addiction. At Design For Change, our long term residential treatment programs are helping clients take action to change their lives, one step at a time. For more information, call us today at (877) 267-3646.