Bottling Up vs. Sharing: Talking About Your Addiction

When you are in the process of recovering from an addiction, talking about your illness can be an important part of the healing process. However, it can be difficult to know how to talk about your experiences, and with whom. It can be embarrassing and uncomfortable to talk about an addiction, even if you know that sharing your thoughts and feelings will help you with your recovery. It can be hard to know who to open up with, and who to trust with your personal experiences. It’s also important to think about the needs of the people around you when deciding how and when to share your story. You have a right to expect support from your closest friends and family during your recovery, but you also want to avoid placing an undue burden on those people. When it comes to talking about your addiction, it is all about finding the right balance. Talk to the People Affected It can be important to talk about your addiction with the people who were most affected by your dependency. Addictions frequently have a serious effect on our personal and professional lives, and recovery involves repairing relationships that have been damaged or broken by the illness. Talking to the people affected does not imply that you need to share every detail of your addiction and recovery with each person. However, admitting that you have an addiction and that you are seeking treatment is often a necessary step towards rebuilding trust and mending relationships. Eventually, you may reach the stage where you are comfortable discussing specific times and incidents that may have affected each person. Many of your close friends any family are likely to have a great number of questions for you once you begin to talk about your addiction. It can be helpful to take some time to figure out what aspects of your addiction you are comfortable discussing, and what aspects you would prefer not to speak about. Planning what to say in those situations will help you avoid coming across as defensive or cagey – you have the right not to share, but you want to avoid offending people when there are things you don’t want to discuss. Talk to a Professional Of course, you may feel entirely comfortable talking about your addiction and recovery, and may even find relief in talking about your struggles at length. This can be fine when a friend or family member is encouraging you to share with them at length, but be wary of foisting excessive confidences on those who may not be ready or willing to address your problems. Don’t bottle your thoughts and feelings in those situations, but do find a listening ear that can provide you with the support and counseling that you need. Even friends and family who are willing to listen may not be able to give you the kind of help that you need as you work through your recovery. Expecting them to provide you with the counsel and insight that you would get from a professional counselor is unfair to both of you, and may further strain relationships that you are working to repair. As a result, a professional is often the best person to speak with about your addiction during the early days of your recovery. Treatment centers almost always provide access to individual or personal counseling, and those pursuing their recovery without entering a facility can still choose to visit a professional counselor. Support groups, in addition to or in place of counseling, can also be a safe and supportive way to share the details of your addiction that your friends and family may not be ready to hear. Don’t Share Other People’s Business Another distinct advantage to professional counseling or support groups is the confidentiality associated with those meetings. Frequently, the personal problems that led to the development of an addiction are intimately connected with the people around us. While talking about your unfaithful partner, your unsupportive boss, your underachieving children, or other stressors is important to your own recovery, don’t share those details with people who don’t have the right to know them. Open and honest dialogue is part of the addiction recovery process, but spreading other people’s personal concerns is not.

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