Those individuals who have escaped an addiction will need to decide about who they want to share this information with. Some people prefer to keep such details private and will only share it on a need to know basis. There are certainly pros and cons to admitting to a previous addiction and the individual should consider these before giving the information to strangers or organizations.
There are many people in recovery who are completely open about their past history. The benefits of doing this include:
* If other people are struggling with an addiction they may be willing to ask this person in recovery for help.
* Those who admit to their recovery can be a wonderful inspiration for other people.
* It means that people can live a more honest life. They do not feel the need to hide anything and this is empowering.
* Some people can actually feel a bit proud of their sobriety so they do not want to keep this information hidden.
* Those who are following a spiritual path usually find that honesty is the best policy.
* Those people who follow the 12 Step program are advised to be rigorously honest in all their affairs.
Trying to live an honest life is highly commendable, but there can be definite drawbacks to admitting to a previous addiction:
* People can be highly judgmental. They may look upon the individual less favorably because of this history of addiction.
* It could conceivably impact the individual’s career. For example, their boss might worry that this means they will not be able to handle the stress of a promotion.
* The behavior of other people towards the individual may change if they know that they are a recovering addict. They may feel the need to tip-toe around the person.
* If the behavior of the individual changes other people may suspect that they have relapsed back to their addiction.
* Other people may try to connect current problems with the individual’s previous history of substance abuse.
The decision to hide an addiction is a personal one. Some people just prefer to keep their previous history private. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this. Most individuals in recovery seem to choose a middle path. They will tell some people about their history of addiction but will hide it from others. There is no real need to be sharing such information with vague acquaintances. It also may be prudent for the individual to keep such details secret in situations where it could be damaging. Those who want to live a life of complete openness will make no attempt to hide the information for others.
A reputable rehab will never allow information about clients to become known to the wider public. This means that the individual will be able attend without having to fear that everyone will find out. People can further protect their identity when attending such a program by using a false name. This means that other clients will never know their real name and so there should be less fear about sharing information at group sessions.
Alcoholics Anonymous is founded on the idea of anonymity for its members. This is to protect the group as well as the individual. In practice there can be difficulties for 12 Group members who wish to keep their recovery a secret. The problem is that there is no way to stop those who are attending the meetings to keep who they say and what they hear a secret. They are asked to do this but not all of them will follow this instruction. There are also open meetings where anyone can turn up. If the individual is spotted by somebody in their community they may feel embarrassed about it. Those who are serious about hiding their recovery may decide to attend meetings in a different town. It is also a sensible precaution to never use names or precise details when sharing about an incident in a meeting. For example, if the individual is complaining about their boss it is not a good idea for them to mention where they live or their superior’s name.
Although these 12 Step Groups cherish anonymity it is acceptable for members to tell personal acquaintances about their affiliation. Some people just prefer to say that they no longer drink or take drugs rather than mentioning that they belong to fellowship. The traditions of AA advise against people talking about their membership with the public at large – particularly with the media. The problem with doing so is that it could harm the reputation of the fellowship for one member to be identified with the organization. It is also not OK for members to try to act as unofficial spokespeople for the group.
It is not uncommon for people in recovery to find themselves in a situation where they are offered alcohol or drugs. This can be an uncomfortable situation to handle – particularly for those who are in early recovery. Intoxicated people can be very persistent when trying to get other people to join them in the consumption of mind altering substances. It is possible to respond to this situation by the individual just saying that they are in recovery and no longer use alcohol or drugs. This can be enough but occasionally it will lead to further questions. Sometimes the best strategy is to give a firm no to any offer of alcohol and drugs and just leave it like that.
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How Rehab Works
Drug or alcohol rehabilitation works at DARA by taking you away from your daily triggers and stresses that lead to your drug or alcohol use in the first place.
Make a Decision
DARA can use a model to help conceptualize the process of recognizing there is a drinking or drug problem and taking action to do something about it.