Self Disclosure in Addiction Recovery
There’s a lot of stigma regarding drug addiction. After all, look at the many problems are associated with it: legal issues, financial problems, health and relationship concerns, etc. I mean a recovering addict just can’t catch a break these days.
But seriously, for those who are in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction there is a legitimate fear about sharing their story with others, and for a variety of reasons. Certainly, the workplace is one environment where those in recovery choose to remain “anonymous.” It’s understandable that in many professions it is necessary to keep one’s recovery “in the closet.” Some jobs have mandatory drug tests, not that this is an issue for someone in recovery but there may be questions on the job application about past drug use. This can be a double-edged sword. If you respond that you have used drugs in the past that may work against you. But if you decide to answer falsely then it could come back to haunt you down the road.
In my work as a drug counselor, I rarely disclose my recovery but when it is appropriate I may do so. Typically, this is done to help the client understand a specific concept. I never want to take the focus off my client’s needs.
Dating is another place where discretion is also employed…sometimes. When I met my wife 20 years ago at a party she asked me if I drank. I replied, “No” and when she asked why I said, “I’m recovering.” Call me naïve but I had no idea that we would eventually be a pair. Basically, I felt like I had nothing to hide and I was comfortable with being in recovery. For some in recovery this is a particularly tough area. On the one hand, if the individual is open about their recovery the other person may not respond affirmatively. Or, if the addict keeps their recovery a secret initially, when the truth surfaces later there may be a problem.
In the end, announcing that you are recovering is not something to be taken lightly. As the old saying goes, “discretion is the better part of valor.” When I first got clean I kept my history a closely guarded secret. As time passed, I became more open, however I still tend to wear my recovery “close to the vest.” When I am in social situations and someone asks if I want a drink I simply say, “No thanks.” If questioned further I simply say, “I’m recovering.” Case closed. I do not owe anyone an explanation.
In the end, it is your decision to make. Remember, it is not necessary to prove anything to anyone. When you are recovering from addiction, your recovery should speak for itself. What you are accomplishing is something to be proud of, whether you tell someone or not.
Have you self-disclosed recently?
CASAC, K. (2012, July 30). Self Disclosure in Addiction Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/debunkingaddiction/2012/07/self-disclosure-in-addiction-recovery
Author: Karl Shallowhorn, MS, CASAC
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