Disclosing You Are In Recovery: Part I
Being in addiction recovery is nothing to be ashamed of, however it should always be a personal choice to share if you are in recovery or not. Your right to remain anonymous should be upheld by those you choose to surround yourself with. You may find it unnecessary to tell certain people that you are in recovery and hard not to tell others— this is why disclosing your recovery is your choice alone.
In certain situations, you may want to protect your anonymity. We feel that disclosing that you are in recovery is completely up to you, no one should be able to ‘out’ you as someone in recovery, especially if you do not wish for others to know. Keep in mind that there are pros and cons to disclosing that you are in recovery.
Let’s start with the cons first:
- Lack of Understanding
People who are not in recovery may have a hard time understanding what ‘being in recovery’ means.
Most people judge what they cannot understand. Some people may also have predetermined thoughts or beliefs around addiction and recovery from their own previous life experiences.
- Lack of Confidentiality
People may not protect the vulnerable information you share with them. Just because you are bettering yourself as a person, and living by spiritual principles, does not that mean they are. Be careful who you disclose to, because they could end up sharing your personal information with other people.
- You may be treated differently
This point goes along with judgment. When people hear that you are in recovery from drugs and/or alcohol, they may push stereotypes onto you and end up treating you differently than before they knew.
- Changed Behaviours
Friends or co-workers may try to edit what they say or do around you, which could be good— if they are simply trying not to do anything that may trigger you; however, it may make you feel out of place or like you are walking on egg shells. If this is the case and you believe it is coming from a place of support, don’t be afraid to discuss it with them and answer any questions they have. They may feel like they are walking on egg shells around you too and simply need a better understanding.
Now, let’s look at the pros:
You can just be honest and candid about where you are, what you have experienced, and what you are experiencing now. If you stay honest, you do not have to worry about remembering what you have and haven’t shared with certain people.
Choosing to become vulnerable with those around you will grow a stronger connection. In disclosing this vulnerable information, you can strengthen your friendships and relationships.
- You could set an example
Disclosing your own struggle with addiction and being in recovery may prompt others to share about their own struggles. Sharing your own experience could very well become the catalyst for someone else in your life to seek treatment for their own addiction. You could inspire others to be open about their own recovery also.
Disclosing that you are in recovery will provide you with a sense of accountability. When you have people in your life who are aware of your recovery, they will likely discourage you from drinking or using if they see you heading in that direction.
You can use your own status as a person in recovery to educate others on addiction and recovery— what both things mean, how they work, what they impact. You could use this opportunity to help others understand addiction and recovery, to lessen the stigma and counter any judgment or ignorance surrounding the topics.
If your friends, co-workers and family members know that you are in recovery, they can be a valuable source of support for you throughout your recovery journey. These people will inevitably help to protect your sobriety by keeping in mind that certain events could be triggering; if these people know you are in recovery, they will be much more likely to keep your recovery in mind when it comes to outside parties or events. For example: If you and your friend are both going to the same party and they get there first, and see that drugs are being used everywhere, they can call and warn you.
- Demolish stereotypes
You can help to break down people’s stereotypes of alcoholics or drug addicts by showing the power of recovery. Being where you are- in recovery from drugs and/or alcohol- is something to be celebrated and can teach others that addiction does not just effect the people they view as a stereotypical addict or alcoholic.
- No more excuses are necessary
You will no longer have to explain why you do not want a drink or always turn down the after-work bar trips. Creating reasons why you can’t do certain things is tiring as it is, so put those excuses aside.
- Make friends
Because 12-step programs of recovery are anonymous, you disclosing your status in recovery to others may uncover that some people in your life are also in recovery. Sharing that you’re in recovery can land you some unsuspecting allies that are involved in the same lifestyle as you.
You should be proud to be in recovery from addiction. You have overcome something that claims many lives, something that takes strength and courage to overcome. Addiction recovery is a personal experience, and what you do on your journey of recovery should be personal to you. Disclose that you are in recovery only if it’s right for you and your sobriety.
In Part II of this Blog, we take a look at when and how to disclose that you are in recovery, should you choose to do so.
Our private retreat programs are a great way to deal with making decisions, coming to terms with your sobriety and past, as well as taking an educated view of your situation and how to move forward productively. Our doctorate level clinical staff have extensive experience in the field of addiction and moving on. To talk to one of our team members, contact us on WhatsApp or by Phone or via email. We will either answer your questions in writing or call you back, according to your preference – contact us.