“Those of us who have lost loved ones and those of us in in recovery from substance use disorders must speak up and tell our stories!” ~ Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy, in recovery from a substance use disorder for more than 26 years.
The social stigma associated with addiction/alcoholism is regrettably still rather paramount as many people continue to believe that addiction is a character flaw or a weakness in a person. This belief often hinders those seeking recovery from ever attempting to get help. The same stigma is also present for those of us who have recovered, but often continue to feel the need to remain silent so that we are similarly not stereotyped! Therefore, many in recovery are still virtually invisible.
However, there over 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery in the United States alone! (Source: manyfaces1voice.org)
That is an amazing number especially since most of us trying to get sober most likely do not know a single person in recovery – I sure did not!
The Anonymous People documentary is what started it all for me. If you have not seen it, I strongly recommend that you do. THE ANONYMOUS PEOPLE is a feature documentary film about the over 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Their slogan is:
Recovery is OUT – to change the addiction conversation from problems to SOLUTIONS.
Recovery is not shameful! It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It is a BIG F-ing Deal!
I was not always open about my recovery. Actually for a long time I did not tell a soul, because the fear of being judged was too overwhelming. In those early days of recovery, I did not feel like getting sober was an amazing decision, instead I felt lots of shame and embarrassment because I did not want to be an alcoholic, and I did not want to be looked down on.
But I sure wish that I had felt differently. I wish that maybe instead of holding on to my shame I could have been looking at this as any other disease and thinking, I am sick, I need help. I wish someone had told me that the journey to sobriety was courageous and empowering! I wish I knew that there were people out there who cared, and would support me, and cheer me on, every step of the way, no matter where I came from and who I was!
We are at a turning point in the battle against addiction, yet the stigma is still huge. Even the death of Robin Williams did not stop people from judging him as as junkie.
So it is still scary…
…and I cannot change who I am.
And every time I open-up about my alcoholism and recovery, I get super overwhelmed. I know that those who have traveled this journey understand it well. But those of you that have not, it might make no sense whatsoever, and as my eyes meet yours I often see the fear and judgement, or even a disbelief. It makes you feel uncomfortable. It make me feel uncomfortable.
I was once told that I must really crave attention to spread my personal business around like this. But actually, “like this” is the hardest thing I have ever done, next to getting sober. “Like this” has given me a purpose to not only combat my own stigma but also help break yours. “Like this” allows me to meet and help many people still struggling. “Like this” empowers me to advocate for recovery and those still suffering. Nevertheless, “Like this” is still the scariest thing that I try to do every single day.
So I am going to DC to join the United To Face Addiction rally, because I believe that it is vital to deliver the message that RECOVERY is possible for all of us!
Addiction does not discriminate, but it does kill. Many people in recovery do not openly talk about it because of the huge social stigma that is associated with alcoholism and/or drug addiction. However, I believe that if I, as a person in long term-recovery, do not speak out about my addiction and recovery, I am also then cultivating the stigma. In turn, that stigma then further hinders those still struggling with addiction from seeking help!
It is time to end the silence – we can, and do recover!
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with alcohol addiction, please click the Find Support link for an extensive list of support groups. Also please check out the links to many useful resources in the sidebar, and always feel free to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also find some great inspiration and support from all the awesome sober bloggers listed in the side bar under POSTS I LIKE and RECOVERY BLOGGERS, as well as Sober Courage page on Facebook and Sober Courage on Twitter.