A former addict discusses his experience after rehab, and the four thoug...
I’ve never been one to stay quiet about what is going on in my life, good or bad. Of course, it’s easier to share news and speak out when something positive is happening versus when you’re going through something difficult.
When my drinking habits lead to my getting sober, I debated about whether or not I wanted to be completely open about what was going on. I didn’t know what people would think. I didn’t want to be judged or labeled. In all honestly, I was scared that people’s opinions of me would change if I admitted that I had struggled to control my drinking and ultimately failed. Because of those fears, I stayed quiet about it for about a month. Eventually I got fed up with feeling like I was hiding part of who I was. I posted on Facebook, telling everyone on there what had happened and where I was at in life.
To my surprise, I was met with overwhelming kind words and encouragement. In the four years since, I’ve continued to speak out about alcoholism, addiction, and recovery. The truth is that the world needs people who aren’t afraid to share their stories, for the following reasons:
1. It shows others that they are not alone.
This is perhaps the biggest reason to share your story. You never know who is out there and struggling, and your words might be just what they need to see or hear to know they are not the only one going through something difficult. It’s comforting to know there are other people in the world who have faced something difficult and were able to come out the other side. Additionally, when people realize they are not alone, they are more inclined to reach out and ask for the help they need. By sharing your story, you have the ability to make a difference in someone’s life. Maybe, you’ll even encourage them to share their own story and impact yet another person.
2. It keeps you accountable.
This wasn’t something I really thought about when I decided to tell the people in my life about my sobriety. However, speaking out and being public about my recovery is what has kept me sober. I know that people follow my journey. Because I’ve been honest with them over the course of my sobriety, I know I would also have to be honest with them if I relapsed. During the times I wish I could drink, I imagine what it would be like to admit that I slipped up. Though I know people would be kind, it’s not something I ever want to have to write about. I enjoy recovery too much to risk it, and a large part of the reason I enjoy it is because of the support of the people I’ve shared my story with. They truly do keep me going each and every day.
3. Sharing your experiences educates the people who follow your story.
Before I got sober, I had many misconceptions about alcoholism. Perhaps the biggest one was that young people/college students couldn’t be alcoholics. My own experience of struggling with my drinking in college proved otherwise. Often when I tell people that I got sober at age 20, they’re surprised because I was so young. After I explain what the height of my drinking was like and why it was problematic, it seems as if people often change their perspective. In my opinion, this is a positive because it makes people more aware of their own drinking and the drinking habits of those around them. They’re willing to listen and to learn, which is always beneficial. The more people are aware of when it comes to problematic drinking, the more likely they are to be able to spot early warning signs and take action.
Sure, speaking out and telling the people in your life about your recovery can be scary. There’s no way around that. The reality is that it’s hard to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. More often than not, you’ll likely find that people meet you with kindness and understanding rather than judgment. People want to understand your experiences and maybe even learn from them. Chances are that if you open up, you’ll find it’s a beautiful thing to be able to make something positive out of the difficult parts of your life.
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