Being a recovering addict is really hard work. There are so many different aspects of recovery, that people who have not experienced it will never understand what it is really like to walk in those shoes. When people talk about addiction and recovery, there are many misperceptions and stereotypes about what the programs are supposed to look like, as well as the patients. This leaves many recovering addicts feeling ashamed and like they are being judged by people that just do not understand the situation they are in.
These people that often judge, do so by responding with pity, and condescension. These people will also jump to many conclusions that recovering addicts lead boring lives, or are bad people with few morals. A recovering addict has to learn how to face these stereotypes with positive coping skills. A great place to start is learning where these stigmas and unfair stereotypes come from. This knowledge will help you remain confident in your quest for sobriety by knowing that you should not have any shame in your brave efforts to beat your addiction.
Admitting a Problem Exists
For most addicts, their substance abuse problems are ignited by their passion for denial. That being said, the first step in treatment is admitting that you have a substance abuse problem. This is kind of like a double edged sword in a way because most people that have never dealt with an addiction have a predetermined image of what an addict is supposed to look like, thanks to the movies and television. When an addict admits that they have a problem to someone, these prefixed images start to appear in the person's mind. They might even have a hard time processing this information because they might think of you as being normal, whereas their prefixed image of an addict is a desolate person with a bleak outlook on life.
These feelings can create judgemental reactions from the person because they may now associate what they think they know about addiction to your situation, and those assumptions are typically way off base.
Pity and Condescension
Then there are those people that will pity you and make condescending comments. You have to understand that people that have never dealt with addiction will never really get it. They will make ignorant comments and do things that will really make you mad. Some of the hardest situations you'll have to face will be from some of your old friends that just might think that you are no longer fun to hang out with. These people think that they cannot drink or do drugs around you anymore, so you are now the downer of the party. These are the people that typically make alcohol and drugs a big part of their own lifestyle, and they are more than likely not "real" friends anyways. They will judge your sobriety as a way to deny their own problems.
What these people fail to realize is that you are living a life full of fun and adventure. Your new sober lifestyle has many joyful moments, and you wouldn't want to go back to a life of addiction even if paid to do so. You'll have to do some reassuring to these people and let them know that you respect their decision, but you also expect them to respect yours as well.
Break stigmas like these by telling your story to people that are willing to listen to your story. You do not have to tell your story to everyone, but do share with those that you feel safe around and people that you have built trusting relationships with. You can even set up your own personal online blog to document your daily struggles and share that with the world to read. Just remember that you are a real individual that is worthy of dignity and support.
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