One of the most common fears that people have about going to an alcohol or drug rehab for drug addiction treatment is what their friends and loved ones will think about them. While the stigma associated with drug and alcohol addiction has decreased over the last several years as more people have come out and talked about it, it does still exist. Some people believe that people suffering from substance abuse are unfit morally, victims of their own bad choices, or lacking in self-control. None of those things are true, and chemical addiction affects people from all walks of life, but unfortunately, it still prevents many people from seeking help.
For more information about the stigmas associated with drug or alcohol addiction read: Substance Abuse Experts on Understanding and Reducing the Stigma of Addiction
All that said, if you have taken the difficult step of seeking treatment for alcohol or drug addiction, you have made a courageous decision. It takes a strong person to ask for and accept the help that drug or alcohol addiction treatment offers and you have already accomplished that.
Now that you are out of addiction treatment, you may be wondering if you should let people know. Ultimately, the choice of whether or not to tell is yours. You certainly don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to, or if you think there will be negative consequences if you do. Should you decide to, there are some points that it is important for you to remember if you don’t get the responses you want.
Some people will not be accepting. No matter who you are, what you do, or how much you have overcome, there will be people who will not be accepting or supportive of your recovery. They may try to dissuade you from talking about it or ignore it altogether. The thing to remember is that you really don’t need anyone’s acceptance. When you get into recovery, you will find out who your supporters are – stick with them. You don’t need the people who don’t accept your recovery.
You can’t control what other people think. There is a saying in the recovery community that says, “What other people think of you is none of your business.” And it’s true. You can’t (and shouldn’t try to) control what someone else thinks. Attempting to will only cause them frustration and cause you disappointment. When you are able to accept that, you will be able to decide whether what they think is something you can live with and continue the relationship, or if it’s best to end it.
You probably won’t change anyone’s mind about it, but time might. If you have friends that think negatively about you being in recovery, or having had a drug or alcohol problem in the first place, it isn’t likely that you will be able to change their mind by explaining it to them. What may change their mind is seeing you working your recovery over time. When someone can see what recovery is all about, rather than just hear about it, they are more likely to change their thinking.
No one has walked in your shoes. Remember that only you know what you have been through. There is no one else in the world who has walked in your shoes. Your situation and experiences are your own. Even if you know someone has been through similar situations, his or her reactions and feelings are not the same as yours. In that, you can take heart when dealing with unsupportive people. It is easier for you to be accepting when someone just doesn’t understand, rather than believing that they don’t care or are being malicious.
Tell yourself the truth. Along with the last point, you have to tell yourself the truth about your recovery. You know your own story and your progress in recovery. You know that being in recovery is a very positive thing, despite how hard it can sometimes be. Hold onto the fact that you are moving in the right direction in getting your life back, you’re brave and strong, and have a lot of perseverance.
You Can Only Control You
Being in recovery is difficult enough without worrying about what other people’s perception of you is. You have control over whether you tell friends about your addiction and recovery or not. But if you decide to, you have to be prepared to hear their opinions. The thing to keep in mind is, that their opinion doesn’t matter and you have to do your best to not let their negative thoughts affect your recovery. Whether you accept that you have differing opinions is up to you, as is whether it’s a deal-breaker or not.
Early recovery is a vulnerable time and you don’t want to make it harder on yourself than it already is. If that means not telling someone that you are in recovery from drug addiction, or waiting until farther down the road to tell them, then so be it. As you grow in your recovery, to tell or not to tell will not be such a big deal. It will get easier; you just have to stay on the right path. For help finding that path, reach out to Summit Behavioral Health.
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