When we sober up, the shame can be overwhelming. We may willingly accept every painful judgment and stereotype thrown at us, leaving little room for forgiveness or the possibility of growth.
So, what can we do to combat stigma and make space for recovery and healing?
This is no small challenge, but it’s one worth taking up—not only for our own sake but for the millions who are in recovery and those who care about them.
Remember, recovery is an inside job. What we tell ourselves is much more important than what others say about us. Focus on your recovery from working your steps to reaching out for support to showing up for your life. Remember to appreciate all of your hard work.
Educate yourself and others about the disease of addiction. As with any disease, education is critical for regaining your health. Learn the biology of addiction and evidence-based strategies that reduce your risk for relapse. Be sure to share what you learn with others.
Choose your words carefully. Stigma likes to hide in labels, so avoid them whenever possible. Be vigilant about self-stigmatizing (and self-sabotaging) language, attitudes, and behaviors. If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself or to anyone else for that matter.
Surround yourself with allies. Create a shame-free zone by surrounding yourself with people who understand addiction and who support and honor those in recovery. Twelve-step groups and transitional living communities like Next Step Recovery are great places to start.
Break the silence. The only way we will ever be free of stigma is by speaking up for the rights of those seeking treatment and recovery. That might involve sharing your own experience or helping someone find recovery. It isn’t always easy, but sometimes speaking your truth can change a mind or save a life. Be on the lookout for those life-changing opportunities.
Info courtesy of Next Step Recovery
“Shame cannot survive being spoken… and being met with empathy.” —Brené Brown