(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Think about this for a minute… according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse:
- Over 23 million American adults have reported using illicit drugs within the past year
- More than 2/3 of individuals who report using or abusing drugs and alcohol are without work
When we talk about overcoming the drug problem in America, it means more than just reducing the amount of overdose and drug-related deaths. National recovery from the issue of widespread addiction is about more than getting drugs off the streets or cutting back on the financial strain on communities. Recovery is about rebuilding and reinventing; not only for the individual but for all those around them. Part of truly turning things around isn’t just getting addicts into recovery; it’s about getting recovering addicts back to work and back to helping build up their communities. So why is having jobs for recovering addicts good for the economy?
Recovery is Better for Business
For many, the idea of hiring someone who has admittedly struggled with drugs or alcohol is counterintuitive. Many employers still see substance use through the lenses of stigma, and so they fear the worst. Some employers may still think being addict makes someone a thief, or simply untrustworthy. Others may be worried the addict will bring unprofessional or even dangerous behavior with them to work. There are so many stereotypes attached to addiction, it is understandable why many are still hesitant. Some may even have had a bad experience themselves.
At the same time, professionals actually suffer more commonly from substance use disorder than most might expect.
Either way, many business owners will tell you that someone recovering from drug or alcohol abuse also has incredible potential to become one of the most valued members of your workforce. Many professionals believe that employing people in recovery has benefits that greatly outweigh the risks.
Some find when providing jobs for recovering addicts, these employees turn out to be some of the most grateful and hardworking. Because it is so hard to find work for some they are just happy to have an opportunity to restart their lives. Some business owners find that because many recovering addicts follow abstinence-based programs, they don’t have to worry about them going out partying all night and not showing up for work, or coming in late and hung over. The attitude of gratitude does an especially great job of boosting work-force morale, and others say that providing jobs for recovering addicts has given them some of the most loyal and committed members of their workforce.
Addiction Impacting the Economy
It is crucial for all of us to be aware of the economic impact of substance use disorder. Now, in the midst of an opioid crisis and overdose epidemic, it isn’t too hard to notice.
The abuse of alcohol and drugs in the workplace and the effects of chemical addiction on the workplace have emerged as the major health concern, eclipsing AIDS as the primary workplace concern of the decade.
According to information provided by the University of Pennsylvania Health System:
- It is estimated that drug and alcohol abuse, including smoking, costs the nation $562 billion per year or almost 10% of the gross domestic product.
- 3/4 of lost costs in industry are due to lost employment and reduced productivity
- 25% is due to medical costs and the cost of treatment for addiction
Experts believe that between 10% and 23% of all workers use drugs on the job. Data collected through a survey on the cocaine hotline reported that 75% of the callers to the hotline had used drugs on the job.
That’s not even getting into the tens of billions of dollars a pop spent on things connected to substance abuse such as:
Turning it Around
When we play with the numbers, we can also see how once recovering addicts get back to work, not only to they contribute to the workforce, but they put more money back into the economy.
For example- in 2006 estimates show Americans spent:
With just these four drugs alone, the billions of dollars being put back into the economy would transform the financial landscape of the nation. So if even half of these people were given effective treatment to get off drugs, and then received jobs for recovering addicts, the amount of money and productivity flowing back into the economy would make an enormous footprint, not to mention the billions saved on those same services like criminal justice.
Ways to Find Jobs for Recovering Addicts
While many find that early on there are jobs for recovering addicts that may be less stressful and more flexible, like working in coffee shops or at restaurants, there are also some great career opportunities out there. Some companies even have programs specifically to offer jobs for recovering addicts.
If you’re having difficulty finding work as a recovering addict, there are many programs out there to help you. No matter where you live, it is likely there are organizations that can help transition back into the workforce.
America in Recovery
Patent engineer, founder, and CEO Larry Keast started Venturetech Drilling Technologies in his garage in 1980 to design and manufacture new drilling technologies for the oil business. The Houston-based company is now a well-respected international business.
A former Venturetech general manager who was in recovery from addiction first gave Larry Keast the idea to specifically recruit recovering addicts. According to Keast, it has paid off.
Keast was so inspired by his experience working with recovering addicts that he founded the nonprofit America in Recovery. This venture has also been good for business since people want to support the company’s mission. Keast says,
“We have a number of customers and vendors that donate to our non-profit and wholeheartedly agree with our hiring policies,”
America in Recovery runs several job sites for recovering addicts, ex-offenders, and older workers. Employers post vacancies on the site expecting applications from people with past drug and alcohol problems, so hopefully, it can eliminate the anxiety recovering addicts may feel about being denied for work.
Some states provide recovery support services that offer careers advice to former addicts. The support available from these programs can range from job search assistance and placements to help with paying for transportation to interviews. Some even run training and education programs for recovering substance abusers.
Just recently the Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine introduced “Recovery Ohio” plan. In his outline, he includes an initiative to provide incentives and reduced risks to business owners willing to offer a job for recovering addicts.
Different states all over the country have unique programs designed to promote the re-entry of former drug users into the workplace. You can look online to find resources in your area.
Why it Matters
It is understandable why many people are still going to be hesitant about hiring former drug users. It doesn’t always work out when hiring people who have struggled with substances, especially when they relapse. However, if any business owner is honest with themselves, even the non-recovering addicts don’t always work out. It is realistic enough to come across an underperforming employee without worrying about issues concerning addiction.
So why does it matter?
Well, because we are fighting such a serious drug problem in America. At the moment, we are struggling to curb the rising rates of overdose and death across the country. If we want to be able to win this fight, we have to be willing to train and work hard for it. Also, we have to have compassion for those who just want another chance. This is partially why so many recovering addicts end up getting jobs in the treatment industry; it provides a compassionate and enthusiastic atmosphere for those in recovery to give back while learning skills that will help them create career goals and build strong work ethics.
But besides compassion and commitment, we have to understand that for those recovering from addiction, recovery means more than just quitting the alcohol or the drugs. Recovery means creating a life worth having. Quality of life and adding hope through the opportunity to grow and contribute to the world gives someone a reason to work harder in recovery.
With that commitment, compassion, hope and hard work, the nation could see a moment uplifting not just for the economy, but for the society as a whole.
Before getting a job, building a future in recovery begins with doing the work to better yourself. Someone recovering from drug or alcohol use deserves the opportunity to build a foundation that can transform their life and help them succeed. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Denise Hill, IOP Therapist. M.A.,C.A.P.
Author: Shernide Delva
In recovery, it is important to learn from those who have been successful in their journey. Everyone has a different perspective to offer. That’s why Palm Partners is starting a series called #JourneysThroughRecovery to honor those who have overcome the adversities of addiction. This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Denise Hill, an IOP therapist at Palm Partners Treatment Center. Since 2002, Hill has been in the addiction and substance abuse field. Hill started at Palm Partners as a tech while earning her Masters degree. She quickly was promoted to Crisis Intervention Coordinator, and soon after became Residential Manager.
Still, Hill knew that her purpose was to be a therapist, so she earned her credentials as a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP) and became an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) therapist. Working in recovery has allowed Hill to remain humble and aware of the disease of addiction. Throughout the interview, Hill’s bubbly and confident personality shined through. It is hard to believe the journey that Hill has overcome, but it is a testament to the possibilities that recovery has to offer. Hill shares a compelling story that those struggling in recovery can learn and benefit from.
Journeys through Recovery: Denise Hill, IOP Therapist and Recovering Addict:
Tell me a little bit about your addiction story and life before recovery? What was your DOC? How long were you active in your addiction?
My addiction spanned over 22 years. My drug of choice at the end was crack. I’ve done multiple drugs leading up to crack. I came from a family that was really poor. I’m the middle child, so my identity was lost and thinking back, I remember thinking, “I just want to be.” I was always intrigued by the older crowd. I couldn’t quite fit in with my friends, but I couldn’t quite do what the older people did, so I had to figure out something. Coming from the verbal abuse that I got, the drugs was the necessary out that I needed to help numb the pain.
What do you mean by verbal abuse? Who was giving you the verbal abuse?
Well, my mom was verbally abusive because she cursed a lot. My sister was emotionally disconnected. My brothers, they just weren’t available at all because they had their own issues coming up. I had a lot of dysfunction in my family so we didn’t get the regular talking to trying to figure out or identify what different roles we could be, set goals, dreams…you just kinda fend for what you had and kinda hoped that you became somebody different.
So growing up in school, they weren’t really pushing you to like pursue a career or anything?
Oh no, growing up was terrible! Oh my goodness! School years were terrible for me [laughs] because I went in with low self-esteem, and the teachers were as motivating as they probably could’ve been, but I wasn’t at a place to draw to them because I was so withdrawn from all the pain and embarrassment of things going on. And not having the best clothes like, it just didn’t put me in that spotlight of this “popular kid” […]. It set me up to be this person to get taken advantage of.
Would you say your childhood definitely played a role in your addiction?
Oh, most definitely! It was one of those… it was so painful. The first chance I got to escape, I loved it. I come from a gambling and drinking family so we could drink for holidays, and I could remember the first day I drank. I was like eight. I remember drinking alcohol and getting drunk the very first time, and I loved it. Even though I threw up, I loved it! Like I couldn’t understand; how could people not want to be like this? Even at eight, because I knew there was so much pain inside, and it took away the pain, so it made it seem better.
Do you think childhood typically affects an addict?
I don’t know that childhood does… I don’t even know that it’s just limited to having a bad childhood. I think the lack of coping skills, the lack of enforcement could’ve encouraged me to do something different. I was already seeking something, because what I was getting was painful, so I was already in searching of something of a disconnect.
What’s one memory that stands out to you when you think back to your childhood that made you maybe feel like you should turn to drugs?
Well, it was a combination. By the time I was ten, I was being molested by my brother. I was stealing, and I was already given permission to drink. So by that time, it numbed me. It took away the feelings that the secret was harboring.
What was that turning point that made you realize that you might have a problem?
When the pain on the inside got great, and I couldn’t talk about it. It’s one thing about stuffing feelings, it’s another thing to be able to express the feelings. Because I didn’t come from a family that would allow me to express my feelings. I was always taught, “Oh, it’s not what you feel,” or “Oh, shut up, you don’t feel that,” or “Change the way you feel,” or “Deal with it.”
Well, how can I deal with it if I can’t talk about it? And if I can’t talk about it, how do I process it? I found out now that I am a verbal processor, but back then, all it did was it just gave me a reason to want to escape, and that’s why drugs became the escape. Because they made me feel good. Then, my voice came when I started using drugs because I could really speak then [laughs]!
Tell me about your process of recovery. How did that start?
OH, that’s the fun part now! (laughs) So, I did what’s called a geographical change. Basically, I moved from one state to another in the name of trying to get something different. So, I moved from Chicago to Rockford, Illinois, moved in with a girlfriend, and ended up getting evicted. I went to this agency for help, and they insisted I go to treatment.
When I got into treatment, I learned so many tools. They put words to things I didn’t know I needed words to, but once I understood the words attached to it; I was like “Oh, that’s what I’m experiencing! Oh my goodness, that’s why I’m going through!” I’ve only had to go through treatment one time, and that’s such a blessing. When I went into treatment, I was so greedy. I was hungry. I was like a sponge absorbent. I absorbed everything in treatment. They talked about, “No matter what, don’t use.” That is what I still live by. I love that phrase. No matter what, don’t use.
One of the pivotal points, when I was in treatment, was this lady asked me my second day in; she said: “Tell me about the saddest time of your life.” And I remember having to think back, because I had stuffed my emotions so much, I couldn’t identify sadness. So I had to think of a moment that I experienced “Sad,” and what I told her about was this time when I was like seven months pregnant with my daughter, and her father chased me cause he used to beat me. He chased me down the stairs, and I fell on my stomach, and I thought that would have stopped him from beating me up, but it didn’t. And then I started crying, and I realized after I had cried that I had stuffed my emotions for so long. Once I cried, and I got done crying, I remember realizing, “If all I have to do is talk about me, I think I could do this.” And I haven’t had to look back since.
You only went to treatment one time?
I’ve only gone to treatment one time, and never had to relapse by the grace of God.
That’s amazing. What do you think results in relapsing and many addicts going back to rehab?
Couple of things. There is so much information out there about relapse, relapse prevention, pattern of using. For me, I know God plays a big part in my story. My faith is strong so that’s what grounds me. What I’ve realized is there is work to be done, and you can’t stop doing the work. Even when you get some clean time, whether it is five years, ten years, or fifteen years, you can’t stop working on your past, because it continues to haunt you. Not being honest, whether it is fear-based, whether it is insecurity, whether it is uncertainty, whether it is financial issues; if you don’t put words to that, you eventually act out about it because you’re not talking about it. Life’s situations requires us to grow up. If we’re not emotionally, physically, spiritually present, the disease lives in those places. It whispers, and it calls you. If you don’t do the work to stay away from it, you’ll end back in that deep dark hole.
What is your least favorite stigma around addiction? How can we go about changing that in the community?
Oh, that is a great question! “Once an addict, always an addict,” is my least favorite stigma. How do we go about changing that? I am in the process of changing that through my Ph.D. program. My dissertation would be around working with African-American children between 21 to 30, creating a group curriculum and traveling to different arenas within the community to teach coping skills, in a group setting, so they can learn how to face themselves and do something different.
Describe addiction in three words.
Dark, dreary hole.
Describe sobriety in three words.
Three words…I’m just gonna say “Trust in God.”
Why I say Trust in God is because the disease is spiritual in nature. […] If you can connect them to a source that is greater than their addiction, they have a greater chance of living in sobriety.
Learning through another person’s story is an excellent tool in recovery. Different journeys offer a perspective that can help you make the connection. Remember, if you are struggling with addiction, there are so many people who have been in the same place you are in. They have embraced sobriety, and so can you. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
The recovery community has always been made up of people who would not normally mix. With such a variety of unique and awesome individuals, the recovery community thrives with personality and perspective. That being said, there are some very similar elements of our personalities that tend to be common traits among recovering addicts. These may be pretty obvious, but maybe it will help people to remember they are not alone in these characteristics. These are 9 common traits of (most) recovering addicts, if you don’t feel this describes you in any way, please disregard. This is the good and bad, not everyone may qualify.
Anxiety comes in all shapes and sizes for people. Recovering addicts and alcoholics typically fall between the more noticeable extremes of anxiety because the main coping skill we are accustomed to using has been removed, and we are left to develop without drugs or alcohol.
It can vary from the recovering addict who has a little to a lot of trouble with anxiety. Some just have little bit of social anxiety and can’t fellowship with others as easily. Others seem more frequently stressed out by their day to day affairs or insecurities. It is pretty common that recovering addicts experience this kind of anxiety in early sobriety. Then others will have more potent problems with panic attacks and severe anxiety. Hopefully this is something that subsides with the recovery process, but sometimes additional therapy may be needed.
Almost the polar opposite of our ability to emphasize anxiety, once an addict has truly put in an effort and begun to recover from a hopeless state of mind and body, they will also feel new power flow in, and a new confidence will replace a lot of the terror that used to rule the recovering addicts life.
Even though pride or vanity can be a hazard, healthy confidence can help a recovering addict to reach new heights, and believe more in their growth.
Now along with anxiety or clarity in recovery, an addict may also become a little cynical because they can no longer lean on the solution they know so well. So when an addict in recovery is not actively working their program, if they just hit a rough patch, or even struggle with some of the more spiritual concepts they may experience a more critical perception of the world around them and shut down.
Recovering addicts may have a tough time being grateful when they are at their worst, and because a lot of us are used to seeing the darker and uglier side of the world, we have a very jaded opinion of how people are and how the world works. We have to work a little harder to let go of the past sometimes when we live in criticism.
- Open Minded
Open minded people are not always the easiest to come by, but in the community of recovering addicts it is easy to find very open minded and free spirited individuals! Sure, to some degree there is still some risk of people being judgment, because well, they are people. But when you talk to a group of people who have done so much good and bad, and experienced so many diverse life-styles in different forms of desperation, you are sure to find people to be willing to expand their horizons. Being open minded is a fundamental ingredient in recovery, especially when looking at the collage of spiritual cultures.
Whether they are willing to admit it or not, a vast amount of drug and alcohol addicts have some level of co-dependence, meaning they rely heavily on others for their attitude and their happiness. Sometimes recovering addicts and alcoholics go girl/guy crazy, and relationships become their new addiction, but this may not be as simple to spot as you think.
While most often co-dependence springs from romantic involvement, people in recovery can also become very co-dependent on their friends. Having a roommate or a close friend who you rely heavily on it not always a bad thing, but when your happiness and your decisions are all based off of your relationship with another person, it can be unhealthy no matter what the relationship.
Even being too dependent on a sponsor in a 12 step fellowship can be an issue. Recovering addicts should not be giving all their focus to another person, especially when their sobriety depends on it. Unfortunately so many addicts are co-dependent because of the life they had leading up to recovery, and the need to be supported in this state of change.
Addicts are some of the most amazingly creative people, and being an addict myself kind of takes the humility right out of that statement but I’m cool with it. Recovering addicts are so creative in all areas because they have given their minds a chance to realize its potential without being prohibited by drugs and alcohol. When addicts let go of the substances and start to become more aware of their passions and their talents, and spend more time on them, they develop into innovators and inspirations for others. So many recovering addicts are writers, musicians, artists and leaders. We just have to remember we are.
- People Pleasers
Sometimes the skill of manipulation sticks with us, even when we are trying to be more conscious of others. ‘People pleasing’ is a common trait among recovering addicts, and it is basically tactics of manipulation watered-down to try and make others happy. When we change our opinions or behaviors based on trying to please others and make friends, it has potential to self-destructive.
There is no shame in doing nice things for others, but to constantly compromise your beliefs or happiness to make or maintain friends, a recovering addict often puts themselves in a position to struggle out of fear of being judged or abandoned.
Now being a ‘People Pleaser’ is one thing, but being considerate is a strong and empowering trait that recovering addicts display. An addict who actively works a program of recovery is very likely to have a great deal of consideration for others, because through working a program in sobriety they have learned the importance of kindness and contribution to other people. Essentially, recovering addicts and alcoholics must become more aware and appreciative of the world around them, and this makes for people who look out for each other more often than would be expected.
Intuition is a vital part of growth and development, and a pretty common trait of recovering addicts. Becoming more aware of yourself and the world around you also comes with a level of intuition that for recovering addicts that is so strong because of all the things so many have been through. So much of an addict’s life is spent in turmoil and tribulation. We as addicts spend a lot of time trying to read minds, trying to deceive everyone (including ourselves), and on both sides of the law. We do damage and we get damaged in a lot of ways.
Recovering addicts and alcoholics have a pretty unique element of intuition based on the insight only an addict can have on different darker shades of life, and experience in emotional trials or troubling relationships that most people may not know. In this way, our pain sometimes becomes our greatest gift.
Recovering addicts have so many things that make us different and unique. We can spend all our time trying to point out what separates us, but sometimes it is more important to see the circumstances and characteristics we have in common, and help one another see the painful and beautiful parts of ourselves, and maybe learn how to survive through our similarities. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
It’s no secret, addiction takes you to places you never thought you’d go. It’s quite common for people like us – recovering addicts – to look back at our time spent in active addiction and cringe at some a lot of the things we did. Take comfort in knowing that, not only is that something you have in common with plenty of others, but also that you are a different person now; the person you were always meant to be.
Here are the terrible things we do in addiction, things such as:
Forgetting where you parked your care and losing it…permanently
Crashing your car while driving drunk/high
Driving drunk/high with your children (and other people’s children) in the care
Getting an account on a sugar daddy website
Having sugar daddies…and telling your children about it
Pimping out women (and you’re a woman) it’s terrible in both scenarios
Pawning your most treasured possessions – and other people’s
Taking out a loan to buy drugs
Purposely writing bad checks to pay for drugs
Shoplifting then selling the merchandise to another store
Stealing your dad’s cop car and uniform to then rob people of their drugs
Leaving your 11 year old child – who flew alone to visit you – waiting at the airport because you’re too drunk to realize what day it is
Going to the ER with a fake story to get drugs
Selling your car for a handful of pills
Keeping your date waiting three hours while you go get high
Stealing your dying grandmother’s medications
Replacing your 5 year old son’s quarters he was saving to buy himself a toy car with nickels and using the money to buy booze
Breaking your own foot/hand with a cinderblock in order to get drugs
Replacing mom’s painkillers with other medication that was potentially dangerous for her to take
Calling cops on your own mom when she withholds your medication
Ripping off other addicts that you know are dope sick to get high
Shooting up another person for the first time
Dumping your friend in the cemetery who’s overdosing
The good news is this: you don’t have to live like that anymore. I know, I know, you probably hear that all the time but it’s true! What we do have to do, though, is forgive ourselves for the terrible things we do in our addiction because holding on to guilt and shame will sabotage your efforts to get and stay clean and sober. Remind yourself that you were suffering from a disease in its active state at that time and commit to being a better person from here on out.
If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, or you have a loved one who you suspect is struggling, there is help available. Call us toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist directly, day or night. We are available to answer your questions and help you out with resources. You are not alone.
Stigma is an ugly thing, simply put it is just a negative stereotype. Defined as a mark of disgrace to be associated with specific circumstance, quality, or individuals a stigma is just another way that addicts and are put into a category and assumed to all be the same. The prejudice against addicts and alcoholics is not only created by those on the outside looking in, but is often recycled by addicts in recovery themselves. People in recovery sometimes support these stigmas by labeling each other or themselves, by judging each other, or by putting unfair expectations on one another. All these things are issues we as a recovery community must do our best to recognize and reconsider. Here are 5 ways recovering addicts contribute to the addiction stigma.
- Calling ourselves Junkies, Scumbags, Etc.
This is probably one of the simplest ways that we as addicts contribute to the addiction stigma, and it is something many of us are guilty of. I know I personally have used this kind of language to describe myself to other addicts, or even jokingly called my friends in recovery by names like ‘junkie’. It is not always meant to be hurtful or destructive, and in some ways we use these terms to identify with our fellows. But even though we may use these terms with the best of intentions, it is still contributing to the negative perception of addiction.
At the same time by calling our friends and fellow addicts ‘crack-heads’ or ‘dope-fiends’ we are labeling them as a group to a name that has a negative image attached to it. Subconsciously these words produce the ugly mental picture so commonly shown in the media of what a drug addict is, and often times this is so far from the truth. People may hear that word n think of someone homeless, dirty or violent while the individual is actually none of those things.
Although we may do this to try and relate to each other and the newcomer, or take the power or sting out of these words by defying the expectations surrounding them, we are still feeding into the negative image we now have, and promoting the names for others to describe us as such.
- Looking down on other addicts…
Being in recovery and being judgmental of other addicts also feeds into the stigma of addiction because it continues to ridicule the individual who is sick, and treats addiction like a the defining characteristic instead of a disease. Yes, there are similarities and there is a common problem, but treating addicts who are either still using or new to recovery like they are less than just supports the idea that addicts are bad people.
Now if you know that you have been a thief in addiction, and you know others have too, it is OK to be cautious of your belongings. However, to be overly suspicious and/or accusing of an addict as a thief is only compounding onto the stereotype that EVERY addict is a thief, with no exception. When we start to promote the idea that every single addict is the same and did all the same things we welcome being considered guilty by association in all areas.
- “Right” or “Wrong” Recovery
Now as addicts we know that there is a great deal of work that has to go into long lasting sobriety. Recovery is a program of action and personal development, which we later use to create new coping skills, relationships, and possibilities. But one way the stigma of addiction is added to by addicts is the dispute over the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ways to recover.
Now personally I work a 12 Step program. There are all types of programs out there to choose from and the one I chose has worked miracles in my life. That being said, the literature itself states that there is no monopoly on recovery. No one method is the ‘cure all’ and we as addicts should not take it upon ourselves to decide if the program of another individual is the right program for them.
Trying to label others as doing the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ recovery can contribute to the stigma of addicts by making those outside of recovery see it as a group of self-righteous and demanding ex-addicts. Sure there are those who would debate that, or would stress that if there is things ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ about someone’s recovery they should be aware, but there are also those who are very clear on the fact that most fellowships do not have RULES, instead they have SUGGESTIONS.
- Refusing to work a program…
Some in recovery just flat out refuse to work a program. This can also contribute to the stigma of addiction because if a person is dry, or ‘white knuckling’ their sobriety then it makes some people believe in the idea that all recovering addicts are miserable.
People who refuse to work a program may not all be miserable. But if you have what I have, and you’re the type of real deal addict or alcoholic I’ve become familiar with, you have to work some kind of program or you will have a miserable sobriety.
This can hurt the image others have on recovering addicts or alcoholics because then they will believe there is no hope for these people to be free and happy from the grips of their illness. Some will only see that addicts are degenerate and hopeless people whether they are using or not, and this is especially harmful to the person who needs recovery, but sees no point because of this stigma.
- Rejecting addicts who relapse…
Relapse is not part of recovery– that is to say it is not a requirement. But relapse happens sometimes, and for some of us it is just part of the journey. I’m never surprised anymore when someone relapses, because if they have what I have it isn’t a miracle when they use or drink, it’s a miracle every day that they don’t. Thankfully many never do.
That being said, when we ridicule and reject the addict or alcoholic who relapses, we are just putting more stocking into the stereotypes against us. We feed into the idea that addiction is more of a choice than a disease by coming down on each other or pushing someone aside when they relapse. Relapse is a characteristic of the disease of addiction, it is not necessary, but sometimes it shows up.
We feed into the stigma of addiction as recovering addicts when we ostracize the addict who has gone back out, because it promotes the idea that the addict who uses is below us or less deserving, that an addict should be outcast, even by his own! This is a terrible injustice. We should always have our hand out, trying to help the addict or alcoholic who still suffers. Those who stay sober are no better than the addict who relapses. We need to help one another, because we are in this together.
Not every addict or alcoholic has the same experience, and not every addict or alcoholic needs to hit the same bottoms or even remotely the same life-style other than their drug use or alcohol addiction. No matter where you are from or what you have done, if you are an addict or alcoholic you are suffering from a deadly disease, and there is help out there for you. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135