Leaving a treatment facility or program can be overwhelming and feel foreign. You have to learn how to reacclimate to life outside of treatment where things are not structured and people are not inherently trauma-informed. Friends and family may have questions about your recovery. While it can help your healing process to talk with others about recovery, it is ultimately your decision what you tell others. Your story is in your own hands, and you get to choose when and how much to share.
Can I Hide and Still Get Better?
Shame is a common feeling for individuals in treatment for substance use disorder (SUD). Individuals with SUD tend to struggle with admitting or sharing their problems with others due to feelings of shame. Regardless, know that there is no reason to be ashamed of what you are struggling with.
Shame often causes individuals to avoid seeking and participating in treatment. However, shame also perpetuates substance abuse. Learning how to confront and overcome feelings of shame is an important step in the recovery process.
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) emphasizes the importance of accepting that you are struggling. More specifically, Steps one and five highlight the importance of admitting and facing feelings of shame:
- Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
In conclusion, you must come to terms with your condition as well as the consequences of your substance abuse to effectively heal. Lasting recovery requires you to talk about your disorder in some way, shape, or form. For many, this begins in treatment and extends through conversations with loved ones throughout long-term recovery.
5 Suggestions for Discussing Your Recovery with Others
Admitting to having SUD to a loved one can be scary due to fear of judgment or fear of losing the relationship. However, it is a necessary step in the recovery process. By admitting what you are struggling with, you can begin to accept that you have a problem that requires treatment to overcome.
When approaching your loved ones about your SUD, consider the following suggestions:
#1. Utilize Education
Not everyone will understand what addiction is or how it affects your behavior. Becoming educated about SUD can help you spread awareness and education to your loved ones. For example, consider sharing facts such as:
- SUD is a chronic illness that affects the way you think, feel, and behave
- Drugs and alcohol interfere with brain structure and functioning
- A mental health disorder can occur as a result of substance abuse
- Anyone can become physically dependent on substances
By understanding these facts, loved ones may be more understanding of how you developed SUD.
#2. Wait Until You’re Ready
Leaving treatment is an adjustment process. You have to learn independence as you transition back to life outside of treatment. You can allow yourself time to adjust before you start discussing your recovery with loved ones.
Too much stress can lead to relapse. Give yourself space and time to tell your friends or others about your condition. You do not want to overly stress yourself, especially right after treatment. It is okay to give yourself a little time.
#3. Trust Who You Tell
You are under no obligation to tell everyone about your disorder. It is your choice who to tell. By only telling certain people, it may reduce your stress or fear of judgment. Additionally, not everyone has your best interest at heart. Be sure to only tell people who you trust.
#4. Be Mindful of What You Share
You do not need to tell everyone the nitty gritty details of your disorder if you are not comfortable doing so. You may have to make amends for past actions, but you do not need to focus on them. When talking about your SUD with others, it can help to stay positive and focus on your successes.
If you only focus on the negative, it adds to bias and stereotypes. Focusing on the positives can help others understand the recovery process and your good intentions to heal.
#5. Prepare Exit Strategies
When telling others about your SUD, you may need to exit the conversation. This can occur if someone is getting judgemental or pushing too far for more information than you want to share.
It is likely that if you have had a SUD for a long period, then one or more of your loved ones or friends knows about it. Hopefully, this means you have someone who is understanding. One way to exit conversations with others is to use a trusted person to support you and back up your boundaries. They can also support you if you choose to leave.
You can also plan conversations with time limits. When making plans with friends or others, if you set a time limit then that gives you a reason to leave suddenly when you need. Another way is to come up with prompts, like, “I’m not comfortable talking about that, can we move on?” Practicing prompts may help if you get put on the spot and cannot think of how to say no politely.
At Lighthouse Recovery Texas, programs such as sober living, extended care, and recovery coaching can support a person in early recovery to maintain sobriety. Through tranquil, well-equipped homes and sober communities, you can heal without worrying about temptations or triggers from others who do not have SUD. By working with peers, you can find validation, understanding, and comfort that family or others may not be able to offer.
Have you been avoiding conversations about your SUD? Are you dreading telling others? At Lighthouse Recovery Texas, we understand that talking about your substance disorder can be hard. If you are struggling with accepting and acknowledging your SUD, it may mean one of our treatment options can help support you. Through individual and group therapies, skill-building courses, and sober communities, we provide a space for you to heal and focus on recovery without external pressures. You get to learn and practice real-life communication skills to prepare you for independence. You can have control over your life and SUD with the right tools and support. Contact us at (214) 396-0259 so we can begin helping you reach sobriety.