Struggling to find the words to talk about your recovery? Not sure what you should disclose, and to whom? Many people find it difficult to know exactly what to say about this deeply personal process, but talking about it is one way to help strengthen your long-term success.
Recovery is an intensely personal journey that touches multiple aspects of who we are. It is linked to our past, which can be painful and traumatic. It connects with an ongoing process of self-discovery and understanding, as well as our aspirations for who we want to be. It is part of our daily regimens, informing how we take care of our physical and mental health. It is a multi-faceted part of life that can be difficult to explain, especially to people we don’t know well or trust.
Deciding when and how to discuss your recovery can feel overwhelming, particularly in the early stages. Examining where you are at with your recovery, and considering situations in which you may feel comfortable – or find it necessary – to share information about it, can help prepare you for conversations around this part of your life.
Understanding Your Hesitation Around Discussing Recovery
Before you start talking about your recovery, take some time to think through your feelings, and be honest about your concerns regarding disclosure. Examining your fears or challenges around talking about your recovery is important in determining how to move forward.
You are worried about how others will react
Despite important moves forward in understanding addiction as a chronic disease and not a moral failing or a lack of willpower, stigma around addiction still exists. If you are still working through feelings of shame or guilt around your addiction, a negative reaction can be triggering and painful. The fear of this reaction, even when you know it’s unwarranted and uninformed, may stop you from opening up about your recovery.
You don’t know where to begin
Addiction thrives in secrecy and isolation, and breaking this pattern can take time. As a result, it can be difficult to find the words to start to talk about what you are going through, especially to someone who has had no prior experience with addiction. You might be worried that people may ask you questions about your recovery that you may have difficulty answering, or that they may not really understand what you are going through despite your attempts to explain it.
You don’t want to have to go through the emotional work of explaining recovery
Recovery is a profoundly important process of healing that can be completely exhausting at times. This is made even more difficult when you have to constantly educate people about what recovery is and isn’t. Common myths around addiction and recovery include things like:
- A functional addiction isn’t a “real” addiction
- People in recovery can never go to a bar or club again
- People become addicted as a result of bad choices or a lack of self-control
Finding yourself in situations where you are having to regularly debunk these myths can be emotionally draining and potentially harmful for your overall wellbeing.
You don’t want everyone to know
Because recovery is intensely personal, it might not be something that you want everyone around you to know about. Or, you may want people to know that you are in recovery, but you want to explain it in your own time, and in your own terms. You may be concerned that if you share it, people will discuss it with others in a way that you’re uncomfortable with, sharing your story before you are ready.
Whatever your reasons for hesitating about disclosing that you are in recovery, take a moment and acknowledge that these are valid. Talking about your recovery may not always be easy, and it’s important to set boundaries around these conversations to protect your mental health and keep your discussion constructive.
When is it Important to Talk About Recovery?
There are going to be moments in life where it is important to open up about your recovery. While you don’t need to go into details if you don’t want to, there are situations where not disclosing could actually be counterproductive to the recovery process.
At the Doctor’s Office
Addiction is a medical condition, and so disclosing this to your doctor is critical in ensuring that treatments during your recovery are tailored with this in mind. This information can play an important role in deciding what intervention will be most effective and least likely to create issues in your recovery.
In Support Groups
As mentioned above, addictions thrive when they’re kept hidden. Part of recovery is dragging an addiction into the light, and one of the safest places to do this is in a support group. Surrounded by people who have had similar experiences, you have the opportunity to begin to practice how to talk about your addiction and recovery. Your support group can provide important feedback and advice on how to go about disclosing your recovery, and share their own experiences as well.
In a Close Relationship
Talking about your recovery to the people you love, trust, and value in your life is important. Opening up is a critical part of the healing process and can have ripple effects that can positively impact communication as a whole in a relationship. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and talk about aspects of your life that you may not share with everyone is important in reinforcing trust and forging an even deeper bond.
Getting the Conversation Started
Still not feeling quite sure about how to begin a discussion about your recovery? Here are a few guidelines to help you start to structure what you’ll say:
- Make it clear that your addiction is in the past – you are successfully sober, and you plan to stay that way. Your recovery is your present and your future, and you are proud of the work you’ve done.
- Think about what level of detail you want to share – if you are planning on having a deep conversation with a trusted friend or partner, you may decide to go into the details of what you’ve been through or any insecurities you feel if you want to share them. But for other less personal conversations, it’s okay to just focus on the positive. This could be things like your success in getting the help you needed, or the skills that you’ve developed to keep yourself healthy.
- Know your rights – this is particularly important if you are disclosing details of your addiction or recovery to an employer. Be aware of non-discrimination laws that relate to your situation, and be prepared to advocate for your rights if you need to.
- Talk about triggers – this is enormously important in creating an environment where your recovery can be successfully sustained over the long term. Letting others know how they can support you in maintaining your health can eliminate unnecessary triggers and also give them a concrete way to be there for you in this process.
Building a Lasting Recovery at The Dawn
The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab Thailand focuses on a holistic, integrated approach to recovery from addiction. Our clients have access to medically-assisted onsite alcohol and drug detox in Thailand, plus a range of effective psychotherapeutic techniques as well as proven wellness practices like yoga, meditation, fitness training, and massage. We work closely with each one of our clients to develop a personalised recovery plan adapted to your specific needs and goals.
Based in stunning northern Thailand, The Dawn is internationally accredited by the American Accreditation Commission International (AACI). One of the many benefits of going to rehab abroad is that you will be able to focus fully on your recovery – a world away from the stressors and triggers of home, surrounded by a supportive, experienced community.
Call The Dawn today to learn more about how we can help you successfully recover from your addiction.