Telling Your Story of Addiction

April 22, 2014

It is a significant decision whether or not to share your story in public. There is a stigma associated with addiction and addiction treatment, especially in those who do not believe or understand that addiction is, in fact, a disease. As a result, many of our patients are concerned that they will be judged by their peers or coworkers if they discuss this very sensitive part of their lives.

For those who decide they want to share their story, there are several benefits to doing so. Talking about your struggles can be very cathartic, reminding you of how far you’ve come – and how you don’t want to go back. Telling your story is a constant reminder of your great achievement. Further, telling your story can also help others in their struggles with addiction and substance abuse. Those who know someone addicted to alcohol or drugs are often left with the feeling of uncertainty and impotence when it comes to helping with the problem. Talking about your experience can offer them some guidance and get them on the path to helping their loved ones. The same can be said for those who are currently suffering from addiction or substance abuse. Hearing your story and the possibility of a better life on the other side of treatment can be exactly what they need to start the process towards sobriety.

Others who are not and do not feel as comfortable opening up about their substance abuse problem may find it helpful to discuss their former addiction issues in a support group. Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) offer a safe and nonjudgmental place where ideas and stories are exchanged quite liberally. It is very beneficial for a recovering addict to discuss their progress with a group of similarly minded people with the same issues.

Finally, of course there are those who do not want to discuss their troubles at all and it is their prerogative not to do so. While, as part of treatment, we try to encourage an open and free flow of communication between patients, counselor and family, not everyone responds to that. For those who do not wish to share their feelings with others, it is all the more important that those around them be vigilant to ensure that the support system that they have created remains strong.  Further, understanding the triggers and signs of relapse can assist those around the recovering addict to spot a dangerous situation before, or as soon as it arises.

We are all unique and as individuals, it is very important that we feel comfortable in our recovery. That means that there is no one-size-fits-all way to conduct our lives. We encourage all of our patients to consider sharing your story either in public or more privately in support group however we also recognize that someone might not wish to do so. The most important takeaway is that the ideas and concepts learned in treatment are followed through in the patient’s everyday life and that family and friends around them contribute positively to their recovery.