People have taken large strides in understanding how addiction is a medical disease rather than a moral failing. However, there is still some social stigma attached to words like “addiction” and “recovery.” As a result, it can be difficult to discuss the recovery process with those who are not also going through it. However, talking about recovery can be an exercise in agency on its own, and there are many ways in which the conversation can be easier, if it even needs to happen at all. Each person—regardless of stigma—has control over their own recovery and therefore has control over their identity and society’s perception of them.
A Constant Decision
Addiction and recovery can follow a person through every aspect of their life and come with feelings of shame and guilt. Negative feelings and emotions can lead people to believe that their entire lives are being viewed under a microscope with family members, friends, and coworkers constantly judging them. While these feelings can be debilitating, they often exist only in your head. Going grocery shopping or getting new clothes are good ways to prove to yourself that you are still a functioning, valid, and valuable member of society. As a result, there is typically no reason to bring up one’s own recovery process in these kinds of situations. Allow yourself to treasure the times that you don’t have to address it. Instead, accept the state of normalcy in a social environment.
Addressing addiction is a constant decision that you have to make, but the agency you have works both ways. Just as making a decision to tell someone about your addiction and process of recovery is powerful, it is just as powerful to analyze a situation and know that someone can benefit from you not bringing it up. Recognizing and learning how to address addiction in social situations is just as much a practice of control over your own recovery and healing. Some relationships will require you to talk about your recovery at length. People you are close with will need to hear about your needs and vulnerabilities in recovery. Other relationships may provide an escape from your addiction. Instead, they can help you engage in a fun, healthy pastime.
Talking Doesn’t Have to Be All or Nothing
When you decide that you do want to open up to another person about your recovery, that doesn’t mean that you are committed to explaining every single detail. Different relationships can have different levels of knowledge about the situation. Early on in recovery, it may be important to you that very few people know about your situation. Perhaps only family or loved ones may know about you beginning an addiction recovery program. However, when you go out with friends, it may be beneficial for at least one other person present to know and help with the situation.
Talking about the process of recovery can be done on a case-to-case basis, and no person is ever forced to disclose more information than they are comfortable telling. For example, you can tell a close friend that you are trying to get help getting sober in order to have an ally keep you on track while going out. A friend who knows about your situation can also help you establish an escape plan, even though they don’t necessarily need to be part of every aspect of your recovery journey and all of your vulnerabilities.
Dealing with Interviews and Occupational Opportunities
Searching for a job is already stressful enough, especially when paired with being in recovery. It can be a nerve-racking, anxiety-inducing experience to feel like you are about to be judged and lose out on a job opportunity, even while you are doing your best to remain sober. During these times it is important for you to be honest but there is no need for you to disclose any more information than you are asked. In the end, it is about your ability to do the job, and bringing up unnecessary information can complicate the interview process. Even if you are asked about a particular addiction or recovery, you aren’t required to tell the entire story. Instead, you can focus on how you are doing now, rather than who you were before. Recovery is a constant journey you take to make yourself better, and when you talk about recovery, your answers should reflect this mentality that you hold. These confrontations are stressful, but the control you have over your recovery and how much information you share with other people is up to you.
While talking about recovery is always up to you, it is still important to find people who you can talk about it with. Recovery can be isolating, so sharing in the difficulties and successes can be an important part of combating this isolation. Group therapy sessions and loved ones can provide this companionship, but you may benefit from discussing the intricacies of your recovery and goals for the future with others as well. However, you can control how much you discuss your recovery and addiction. You have agency over talking about it, and that can help you gain agency over your own sobriety as a whole.
Addiction recovery is a very personal journey. The various skills taught at Lighthouse Recovery can help each person learn to address and explain the complicated world of addiction recovery to their family, friends, and loved ones. It also provides a safe space for people to experience all of the other aspects of their identity outside of addiction. Learning to use your voice is a skill that can transcend many different recovery techniques, and help in both the recovery and professional worlds.
Lighthouse prides itself on having understanding staff members and a community catered to help each person use their unique voice. With individualized programs, Lighthouse can help you develop a plan to take your first step today.