Reaching a point in one’s addiction recovery journey where one is prepared to talk about their experiences can be an empowering, if complicated, time. It can also be challenging to know how to approach such a subject outside of the recovery sphere. While professionals and peers can sympathize with the unique hurdles of addiction and understand the emotions and trials that are otherwise difficult to put into words, those without such a frame of understanding can feel hard to communicate with.
Talking about one’s experiences with addiction with friends outside of the recovery sphere requires preparation. Being prepared for the difficult conversation ahead is crucial in ensuring that an individual has the emotional resilience to make it through the conversation and convey one’s experiences and feelings around the topic in an effective, genuine way.
There’s No Need to Rush Into It
Before discussing such a sensitive topic, first, ask oneself if such a conversation is necessary at this point or with this particular person. Only those who have suffered from the addiction themselves can decide who they want to open up to and when they are ready to do so. Deciding that it isn’t yet time to discuss one’s past with addictive substances is a valid conclusion, and an individual may need more time before they are ready to discuss it in the future.
It is also important to note that there is no need to tell everyone in one’s life about your experience. Certain social spheres beyond the recovery facility may not be aware of one’s time in a recovery program and, instead, continue to embrace an individual based on shared interests and practiced life skills, identity, or personality. In these instances, it may not be necessary to bring up such difficult memories at all unless a particular event calls for it.
Keeping these social spheres separate from one’s recovery life can continue to reinforce them as a testament to one’s sober identity in the present and can reflect proudly the changes that entails. Sharing one’s experience with addiction with one person or group doesn’t mean that they are necessarily ready or need to discuss it with other people as well, and they shouldn’t be expected to do so.
Talking about one’s past with addiction means being able to do so in an honest way–both to oneself and whomever they are talking with. Being honest with oneself means that as they begin to discuss their experiences, they cannot shy away from feelings of guilt or shame that may come with such memories and are aware of how addiction has affected those around them. While discussing certain things can be extraordinarily difficult, having an honest perspective of how addiction has affected one’s own life is necessary to convey the seriousness and heaviness of the topic at hand, especially if an individual is sharing their experience with someone who hasn’t suffered from the disease themselves and may not know the depths to which it can affect someone.
Being honest with others is taking how one was honest with themselves and then being willing to share it in an unfiltered way. It is possible that an individual is being entirely honest with themselves but can still be nervous or anxious about how others may react when hearing the details of addiction. They might minimize the effects that addiction had on them when they are put into words. This is a natural reaction, and it is okay to slowly open up to people over time.
Talking about addiction doesn’t have to be done at a certain time and doesn’t all need to be done at once. Sharing a single, honest sentence can be incredibly impactful, even if the weight of the conversation demands that the conversation then be cut short.
There Will Be Questions
Those that aren’t a part of the addiction recovery sphere will have questions about one’s experience, like how it felt or what it was like, among other inquiries. Questions like “So, can you not drink at all?”; “What happens if you’re at a party?”; or “Well, can’t you just be a DD?” may all pop up, and there can be an even greater deluge of questions as a friend or loved one tries to wrap their head around the effects of the disease. Preparing and practicing one’s responses to themselves before having the conversation with others can clarify the situation and force a person to reflect on how their coping strategies help them handle certain situations.
Preparing to talk about addiction can be complicated, intimidating, and not always necessary. However, it is crucial to have a safe and comfortable space for you to begin exploring how to approach the subject in a confident and informed way. At Everlast Recovery, we are prepared to meet you wherever you are in your journey through addiction recovery, from just starting your detox or residential treatment and working to help you better understand and prepare for your transition to a new, sober lifestyle. We offer an array of programs to help you understand your own experiences with addiction and can help you move through your recovery in a personally impactful manner, from using art therapy, mindfulness, individual and group therapy, family programming, and much more, all with the backdrop of a comfortable and home-like atmosphere. For more information on how we can help you in your journey to sobriety or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique experiences and the opportunities available to you, call us today at (866) 338-6925.