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Being open about addiction recovery

Discussion in 'Sobriety Tips and Inspiration' started by kassie1234, Dec 17, 2015.

  1. kassie1234

    kassie1234 Community Champion

    I read a great piece today about the benefits of being open in the process of recovering from addiction. The article can be found here -

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lauren-stahl/why-i-am-open-about-my-addiction-recovery_b_8556926.html


    Here's the points that the author makes about why being open is helpful.


    1. Reduces shame.
    I lived with shame and guilt running the show for years. I stuffed down every emotion I was feeling and got myself involved in dangerous and embarrassing situations. This cycle continued and fueled my addictions. By outing my addictions, I am able to give them less power and tap into the person I was truly put here to be.

    2. It helps others.
    I never thought that my story would inspire others. I never thought people would want to listen to what I have to say. When I opened up about my addictions, a new connection with others began. A sense of vulnerability I never felt before. I have thousands of people part of my SPARKITE community and by being honest and open about my struggles, I watch as it helps and heals others.

    3. Let go of baggage.
    Carrying baggage is detrimental. I did it for years. When I got sober, I cleaned up my side of the street. By letting go of this baggage, I am able to focus on the here and now. And with this mindset, I can focus on helping, servicing, and inspiring others. That is part of my purpose for being here and the more I block that off, the more self-involved and destructive I am with myself.

    4. No more secrets.
    Secrets have an ability to give some this illusion of control and a small high. There is a power play involved with secrets. I experienced this first hand. I hid my addictions and destructive behaviors from most people. At the time I thought it was normal. I didn't realize a life without secrets was an option. So when I let go of my addictions, I couldn't hide anymore. And with this, I don't carry that shame, regret, or disappointment in myself. I can show up and take ownership over my life now.

    5. Authentic relationships with others.
    Relationships can be tricky. This is true for anyone. In the past it was never about fully being there for another person. It was always about what could I get from that person to fill the void I felt within. I needed that validation and since I wasn't getting it from within, I turned to everything outside of myself. Ultimately, that didn't work. I can now have authentic and intimate relationships with others. This means addressing my needs and desires and instead of holding onto anger and resentment, speaking my truth. It benefits all involved.

    If you are going through recovery right now, or if you would say you are recovered, have you been open about it? Do you have any other reasons apart from the ones on the list as to why it's been a good idea for you?
    deanokat likes this.
  2. pwarbi

    pwarbi Community Champion

    I think a lot of the time first of all you have to come to terms with the addiction yourself, and admit to yourself that you need help.

    When you've got past that step, obviously the next big hurdle is admitting to others what's going on and showing that your willing to do whatever it takes to overcome the addiction.
    kassie1234 likes this.
  3. kassie1234

    kassie1234 Community Champion

    Indeed - it's almost like that admitting it to others is something that means you have to take accountability for it, since people then know the severity and will hold you to your promises on your recovery journey.
  4. pwarbi

    pwarbi Community Champion

    Exactly right. It's one thing to promise yourself, but when you open up and tell somebody else, and promise them you can change, there's that added pressure to succeed and sometimes that's all it takes.

    Letting yourself down is hard, letting others down is even harder and it can give you the added extra incentive to carry on when your at your lowest.
  5. xTinx

    xTinx Community Champion

    Thanks for sharing Kassie! Although the author of the article you shared raised good points, I've realized that being open about recovery would only work for a handful of people. The person has to be receptive to all those listed above. Otherwise, the support system has to work double time.
  6. Rainman

    Rainman Community Champion

    It gives you some extra incentive to change but there's also the added advantage that the people who know you are battling an addiction will be quite eager to offer some support should you ever need it and if you were to avoid some of your friends because they still use drugs, they'd not hate you for that.
    kassie1234 likes this.
  7. kassie1234

    kassie1234 Community Champion

    True, I would say that for some people it would be a beneficial thing but others may want to keep it more under wraps - I know plenty of people that would see telling everyone as added stress and pressure. Everyone has to do what is right for themselves and their circumstance! :)
    stariie likes this.
  8. stariie

    stariie Community Champion

    I agree with what you're saying here, although the article has some good points. One size fits all is not for everyone, and while it can be a "cleansing" type of experience for some to be open about their addiction, to others it can be a source of shame, something that they never, ever want to admit to or re-visit, even in their conversation.

    Also, being addicted to different things carries different connotations in certain cultures, so some people are selective about their openness, or in the interest of believing in full disclosure, choose to say nothing at all. For instance, a person might readily admit to being an alcoholic, but that same person will never tell anyone that they smoked crack for 10 years because in their culture, crack is seen as a low-class drug, whereas alcohol is "ok".
    kassie1234 likes this.
  9. kassie1234

    kassie1234 Community Champion

    Great point you make there about some drugs being seen in the eyes of society as being easier, safer, and holding less stigma than others. I'd say here in my country, alcohol and cigarettes are the two that people would be okay with admitting, because I guess they're seen as less severe (mainly because they can be easily sourced, I think). I do think that anyone who has done different drugs to those ones and has been battling addiction may not find it so easy to be open and upfront about it with people.
  10. deanokat

    deanokat DrugAbuse.com Community Organizer Community Listener

    The more people talk about their struggles with addiction, the more the stigma associated with addiction will be chipped away at. It's hard to believe that diseases like breast cancer and AIDS used to be shrouded in stigma, too. But people realized that "silence is death" and started sharing openly. I hope the same happens with addiction.
    kassie1234 likes this.
  11. HalfBeard

    HalfBeard Active Contributor

    It's a shame, how much catharsis and help is never to be had because of the fear of how society will react to knowing of people's struggles. The short answer solution? People need to be more understanding and compassionate.
  12. Adrianna

    Adrianna Community Champion

    Well I think people need to use their best judgement when talking about something like this with others. If they are around sensible people that are kind and intelligent it makes sense. Some people have a terribly low rationality in their thinking. Choosing to share with people of a low mentality can only cause the individual damage.
    I think that all of what you are saying is true. More than likely if someone has fallen into addiction they have been around the wrong type of people perhaps. Authentic relationship with others is by far the best way. Being honest and genuine. Shame is one of the worst things to carry with you. Speaking the truth is the most liberating thing to do. I do think those you surround yourself with should be chosen wisely. This includes sharing. If you haven't expanded your universe you wouldn't have anyone to compare those of a low mentality to. So seek out the compassionate when in recovery and wanting to share. There is no need to further shame or guilt with those who may hinder a healthy environment.
  13. kassie1234

    kassie1234 Community Champion

    I hope the same happens with mental illness - I feel like we're getting there, slowly, and people are being more understanding of it (mainly through awareness) but I think we still have a long way to go! I feel like if someone tells someone they have a disease like diabetes then people are pretty compassionate and understanding, but sometimes when people try and explain depression or anxiety then people look at them like as if they're contagious, or something. The more people talk about it, the more I think it's normalized and there isn't that mystery surrounding it all.
  14. HalfBeard

    HalfBeard Active Contributor

    Completely true, but a lot of times some can find struggle when talking to someone who they THINK will be understanding and loving, but were wrong, which is a terrible shame.
  15. pstrong1969

    pstrong1969 Community Champion

    After reading some of these post and Kassie1234 post. I believe the author of the article was referring to being open to others in recovery and certain close friends and family. I wouldnt walk up to a stranger and say hi Im Paul and I suffer from an addiction problem. No that wouldnt be an appropriate greeting for a first meeting. This article referrs to others in recovery that have already establish that they are addicts. Telling on yourself and your secrets make them more lifesize. Not so big. Takes away the shame you may be carrying about a specific area that bothers you. I have alot of problems speaking to people openly because of this. I feel shame for the way Ive lived my life. But when I am honest it is like the whole world has been lifted off my shoulders. There is alot of therapeutic value to this practice. Thank You Kassie1234 for this post.
    kassie1234 likes this.
  16. serenity

    serenity Community Champion

    I'm not an addict, but recovery, in general is quite beneficial for addicts and them being open and admitting that you have a problem is the first step towards recovery. You'll never know, others might even be inspired with their story, so being open is a good thing.
  17. kassie1234

    kassie1234 Community Champion

    Yes! I agree - I think it was more about opening up to people you already know, not just telling anyone and everyone you may happen to come across. I'm sure that my cashier at the supermarket or my bank teller wouldn't need to know that I was a former alcoholic! I'm so glad that you've found that honesty and openness has helped you in your journey! Have a wonderful weekend Paul! :)
  18. 6up

    6up Community Champion

    If you are not open then nobody will be able to know about your problems so that they can help you out. By being open you also agree to be helped. Many people are not open because they fear being laughed at, making it impossible for them to be helped. We need to talk to with our family members about our addictions so that they may understand what we passing through.
  19. HalfBeard

    HalfBeard Active Contributor

    How insightful, yes the sympathy and inspiration we give to others can always go much farther than we ever would have expected!
  20. Nergaahl

    Nergaahl Community Champion

    Keeping everything inside of yourself is not good when it comes to recovery. That's the time when you need the most support and hiding your past is not going to do you ant good. Unless you want to be alone, silence is not recommended. You need to seek some help to facilitate your long journey.