I was very honored to be challenged on my Instagram account today to show my support in fighting the 3 stigmas of recovery. To do this, I posted a picture of myself (the one you see here) holding up three fingers. Each finger represents a stigma that addicts and recovering addicts have to deal with on a daily basis. I am going to share those with you here also in hopes of reaching another audience and perhaps helpings someone who struggles with one or all of these.
First Stigma – Addiction is for the weak.
This one pisses me off.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Addiction has nothing to do with weakness. It’s a medical condition that has no boundaries. Rich or poor, gay or straight, male or female, it doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t see the color of skin or home much money you make. It is an equal opportunity stalker and it is always looking for a new victim. Again, addiction has nothing to do with weakness. Instead of weakness lets talk about strength. It takes strength and a strong person to standup and say “Enough is enough”. It takes a strong person to say “I’m going to change every thing about myself to get better.” It takes a strong person to wake up every morning and look at the addiction that is sitting on the edge of your bed waiting for the one moment of weakness to get back in and tell it to “Fuck off”. There is nothing weak about recovery. We are warriors that fight everyday and every month to keep addiction away and sobriety intact.
Second Stigma – Addiction is something to be ashamed of.
I have lived a lifetime of shame and guilt and I will not give it one more second of my energy. I’m not ashamed of my past or my addiction. It is what it is and there’s not a damn thing I can do about any of it. What I can do is go back and forgive myself for what got me there in the first place. I can go back and save that inner child that is scared and alone. I can do a whole lot of things, but feeling shame is not on the list. I hold my head up high, I sing from the rooftops, I walk into a room like ball of energy. Shame would rob me of all of that. I made the decision to rid myself of this years ago while on a hike. I came to the realization that guilt/shame was like a vampire feeding off my soul. I also realized that like a vampire, I could banish it from my home (me) simply by telling it that it had to leave. It was that simple. I stopped and said these words out load. “You are no longer welcome in my home, you are banished”. One of the best decisions I ever made
Third Stigma – Sobriety will be the end of all the fun.
What the fuck?
I don’t know about you, but my idea of fun does not include feeling like shit every morning, blackouts and drained bank accounts. There is absolutely nothing and I will repeat this, nothing fun about addiction. You might be able to have a beer at dinner. For me it would have ended in a 12 pack. You might be able to go to a party and have a glass of wine. I would have been hung over for days. If you don’t believe me, ask my boys. They will tell you there is nothing fun about addiction and how much it hurts watching someone you love kill themselves. What is fun is my new life. The joy I get out of everyday pleasures, a healthy lifestyle and money in the bank. I have spent the last 5 years rebuilding a relationship with my children. That has included road trips, whitewater rafting, hiking and just basically living. To me – that is the definition of fun.
So you might have picked up on the fact that I am very passionate about this subject. I have spent the majority of my life dealing with addiction, self loathing and a constant state of unhappiness. I am truly so incredibly proud of myself for making that decision to change every part of my life and start over as sober person. I protect my sobriety like mother protecting her child. I also want to take my platform and help others who might be on the fence or be too scared to take that first step of change. I want them to be able to look at me and know there is something better on the other side. I don’t care how many times you have to try and get sober, please just keep trying.
Here are some phone numbers if you are looking for help:
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Hotline 1-800-729-6686
National Suicide Prevention 1-800-273-8255
National Youth Crisis 1-800-442-4673
Boys Town 1-800-448-3000
2 thoughts on “The 3 Stigmas of Recovery”
Thanks for this much needed post. You are absolutely right that addiction is not just for the weak — it affects everyone. I think with mental illness people automatically think that people are weak and that’s far from the case. Even the ‘strongest’ people can suffer from addictions.
Thanks Helen and yes we need to get the word out as much as possible. People have the wrong idea about addictions. I have a lot to say on this subject and will continue to get the word out as much as possible.