Breaking the Stigma

It’s possible to break our anonymity in such a way that we don’t harm the various twelve-step fellowships we belong to. In fact, it’s possible to break our anonymity in such a way that not only are we not harming twelve-step fellowships, but we’re also helping the still sick and suffering.

Isn’t that what recovery is all about? Helping those who are struggling with active addiction? Helping those who can’t, come hell or high water, put down the bottle, the pipe, the syringe?

It was made clear to me very early on that my primary purpose in life was to help those struggling with drugs and alcohol. It doesn’t matter how busy I am. It doesn’t matter what else I have to do. It doesn’t matter if I don’t feel like it. If someone reaches out, I need to always be there to help.

breaking the stigma of addiction

So, with all that in mind, the question becomes how can I help people the best? How can I be of service to the still sick and suffering addict or alcoholic the best?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to help those struggling with addiction, this entire planet’s worth of active addicts, is to break my anonymity. It’s to proclaim from the metaphorical rooftops that I’m a sober woman. It’s to shout at the top of my lungs that yes, I’ve recovered and yes, you can too.

Consider this my coming out, of sorts. I’m an addict in recovery. I’m a sober alcoholic. I’m a self-harmer who hasn’t seen light shine off a blade in years. I’m an eating disorder survivor. I’m depressed but still get out of bed each morning. I’m anxious but still talk to strangers. I’m mentally ill but still take my meds.

Of course, I’m not all of those things, but I might as well be. I’m many of them and the one’s that I’m not, well, I can identify with. The important part is the fact that I’m just like you. Yes, you. You reading this right now. I’m just like you.

I’ve felt the same despair and the same hope. I’ve celebrated and mourned the same things. I’ve been through the same impossible situations. It doesn’t matter if my impossible situations were different in the details than yours. We’re the same.

And, more importantly than anything else I’ve said so far, we can recover. At time it might not seem like it. At times it might seem like we’re doomed to die from our demons, or, even worse, to live with them. But I promise you that’s not the case. I promise you we can recover.

I’ll leave you with a quote that I can’t seem to stop thinking about. It’s from an essay I recently read about addiction and recovery.

The author, David Cohen, is the clinical director for one of the oldest and most respected rehabs in the country. He’s many years my senior. He been educated, I’m sure, at the country’s top schools. He’s a man and I’m a woman. Despite all of that, we’re the same.

We’re the same because we’ve both survived the same disease. A disease of our thinking and a disease of our actions. A disease of dishonesty. A disease that tries its hardest to appear to be anything but a disease. I’m talking, of course, about the disease of addiction.

So, enjoy David Cohen’s words. I certainly did. They triggered something in me that I can’t quite place my finger on. Read them and remember that we can all change!

“It is due time that the recovery community mobilizes to haul addiction out from the depths of dark basements, and into the light of the open and evolving nature of our society. I am proud to be in recovery. I am grateful everyday that I am free from the crippling grips of active addiction. Now is a time for all of us to spread the message of hope and healing to others who are still suffering. No longer should we glamorize addiction, nor should we oust the addicted individual from society, but rather we should join with the force of the current recovery movement to rejoice and celebrate the very human journeys of recovery that continue to emerge among us” (Huffington Post).

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