When you recovering from an addiction it can feel like a very sensitive and vulnerable time. Add to this the significant stigma that still surrounds addiction and some people may feel hesitant to tell others about their efforts to be sober. Each person in recovery will need to decide at some point who they will tell about their sobriety and find which circumstances they feel comfortable enough to talk about it.
Alcohol and drug addiction are some of the most common issues that our society faces and yet addiction remains one of the most stigmatized illnesses in the world. People view addiction as a moral failure rather than a legitimate disease and may be judgemental about a person’s inability to control their alcohol or drug intake. The attitudes that people have about addiction can make people in recovery more cautious about being public with their sobriety.
The stigma surrounding addiction and the vulnerability that people feel in recovery are some of the reasons why most recovery groups like AA are meant to be anonymous. People need to feel that they have some privacy especially in the early phases of getting sober when they are very fragile. Eventually it will be their choice to remain private about their past or tell more people as a way to combat the stigma through their story.
Privacy and Sobriety
Everyone is entitled to have their own personal privacy when it comes to the problems that they face and the internal struggles that they deal with. Recovering from addiction, however often means that you will need to tell family and friends, and especially people who have been harmed by your actions. In this case, you may have to break your privacy so that you can make amends and also have the support necessary from loved ones to recover.
When it comes to strangers, acquaintances, potential employers and coworkers it is up your personal discretion who you want to talk to about being sober. Some people may be worried that public knowledge of their past addiction could jeopardize their ability to get a job or it could ruin some of their relationships. It can be difficult to talk about recovery especially in a casual setting when you don’t want to discuss deeply personal issues with someone you don’t trust yet.
Unfortunately for many, being recovery can mean making decisions every day about when they do and don’t want to talk about being sober. It can come up in many different situations and you will have to evaluate whether it is worth talking about or keeping quiet about. For people that value their privacy they may be willing to make these decisions to protect themselves from possible judgement.
Reasons to Go Public
Even though privacy can be better for many people in recovery, there are also many positive reasons to be public about addiction. It can be kind of freeing and cathartic to talk about your past and be open about it with everyone. You will never have to worry about who knows and who doesn’t, you can simply let people accept you for who you are if they choose to.
You won’t have to think about keeping track of which friends or acquaintances know about your addiction. You also can stop trying to come up with various excuses and reasons why you don’t drink or you don’t want to go to a party where alcohol is involved.
There is a saying in recovery groups that you are only “as sick as your secrets” meaning that hiding your past is only going to make it feel more shameful. It can feel good to avoid having to lie or dodge the truth around people and instead just be honest about your situation. It can also make it much easier in situations when someone offers you a drink and you can simply say “I’m in recovery”.
One of the most beneficial reasons to be public about sobriety is that it can serve as a way to help others. Telling your story and letting people hear what you went through can help them feel they are not alone. They might be inspired to quit their own addiction or tell their own story that they have kept secret for a long time.
Being public about sobriety may not be for everyone but it can be a positive option for people that are tired of hiding and are ready to talk about their past. The more people are able to be open about their recovery, the more they can start to combat the stigma and help others learn to accept them in spite of their struggles with drugs or alcohol. Recovery stories can be inspiring and be a light of hope for people who are still dealing with addiction.