You’ve made the decision. You’re going to rehab. You’ve told your wife. Your parents. You even sent an email to your boss, explaining that you’ll be gone for a month and that your MFLA paperwork is being processed. Your bags are packed and you’re ready to go.
Except for one thing. You haven’t told any of your friends about your trip to rehab. Because you’ve never told them that you’re addicted.
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The Stigma of Addiction
Although the disease concept of addiction is accepted by the healthcare and medical fields, addiction is still treated like a moral issue instead of a brain disease. Addiction carries the stigma of shame and guilt and it’s something that no one wants to admit to. But you have to. While addiction is a brain disease, it’s also a disease of lies and manipulation, a disease that hides and cowers.
Recovery, on the other hand, is a cure. It’s honest and forthcoming. It’s accountable and out in the open. Recovery will tell you like it is, even when it’s not the easiest thing to do.
You’ll want to practice what you’re going to tell your friends before discussing your addiction with them.
Whether you’re getting ready to go into drug and alcohol addiction treatment or just got back from rehab, you need to let the people in your life know about your addiction and your intent to get clean. While you may think it’s easier just to let it come out naturally in conversation, chances are that’s not going to happen. Instead of leaving the discussion up to fate, prepare for it with these easy steps.
The Time and Place: Choosing the right time and place to talk to your friends about your addiction is important. You want a time when people aren’t rushed, tired, or distracted. You also want to be at a place with the issue can be discussed without interruption. So in the morning over the coffee pot at work isn’t right and neither is at the bar at happy hour.
Know What You Want to Say: Instead of winging it, jot down the points you want to make on a note card and bring it with you. Knowing what you want to say will make it easier to get the words out. It will help you keep on track and make sure you get everything said that you need to.
Practice: If you’re really nervous about talking to your friends about your addiction, practice the conversation with someone who already knows. This lets you say the words and realize that if your friends care about you, they’ll come to understand.
Just Say It: There’s no reason to beat around the bush. You’re an addict. Don’t justify it. Don’t minimize it. Just tell it like it is. Explain why you’re seeking help and how you know it’s the right thing to do.
Ask for Support: The one thing a recovering addict needs is support, so ask your friends for it. Explain what you mean when you say support, and explain the support systems you already have in place.
Expect Resistance: Although many would say the people who don’t support your recovery aren’t your friends, when you first inform someone about your addiction and treatment, you may experience some resistance. Nobody likes change, and your friends may be worried about how you’ll change or if you’ll expect them to stop drinking/smoking/using.
Stay Calm: Chances are, your friends already know you’re an addict. Or at least they suspect it. Don’t worry too much about what they’ll say or do. What matters is what you do and how you react. Remember what’s within your control and do your best to remain calm.
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