This article is by the Recovery Centers of America
So many people are suffering in silence from a drug or alcohol addiction. You might have been one of them. You know the pain and internal conflict that comes along with having an addiction.
The best way to get people help for their addiction is to destigmatize the disease. They need to know it isn’t their fault, that there’s hope – and they need to hear it from people who have lived through it.
Recovery can be a personal, private process. But there is so much power in sharing your story, for yourself and for others.
Question is, where do you start?
Consider the why
Ask yourself: Why do I want to share my story?
Do you want to help others see there is hope? Do you want to let people know they don’t have to hit rock bottom before they accept help? Do you hope to heal from your own wounds?
Whatever the reason, you may want to try writing it out first, taking a break, and looking at it with a fresh set of eyes. Maybe run it by someone else in recovery or a loved one.
Remember: Your story doesn’t have to simply talk about your time in active addiction. Rather, it can focus on how you were able to overcome any hurdles or seemingly hopeless situations. Just make sure it holds true to a message that is important to you. Don’t be afraid to share your emotions with your experience.
“Someone who works for me showed all the signs of an addiction. After he gave me a shaky story about not showing up at work, I did some digging and found out he was not telling me the truth. When I asked to meet with him the next day, I told him I just reached my 500-day milestone and I understand his situation,” Alumni Association member Randy says. “Rather than focus solely on my addiction, I told him about my sobriety and how my entire world changed. He was amazed I could be in recovery and garnish such a high-level job. I also put the ball in his court – I asked him to list every benefit to staying in active addiction. He couldn’t think of any. Then I asked him to think of the benefits of staying sober. After he listed the benefits, I took him home to gather what he needed and drove him to addiction treatment. I’m proud to say I presented him with his 30-day chip.”
How to get started
Sometimes, keeping it simple is the best remedy.
“I approached someone I knew was struggling and used my personal knowledge without breaking my anonymity. When she continued to resist being honest, I sat her down and simply say: I get it. I have been where you are. I’m in recovery,” says Alumni Association member Melissa. “That finally got her attention. She couldn’t believe how far I’ve come and appreciated that I really did actually understand her situation. I felt her hang on to me like I was her life preserver.
“When she asked if I thought she could really beat her addiction, I said yes, I believed in her and would support her. Today, she’s 90 days sober.”
Just remember, your story should focus on more than just the addiction. It’s about your recovery and growth, too. So while you may have so much to share, don’t forget the goal is to let the person know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not too late to get help.
Answer: What happened?
Odds are, there was something that lead you to seek treatment and ultimately recovery.
So, what happened?
What spurred your sudden willingness to seek help? Was it an intervention? Did you lose something precious? For some, it isn’t a big event – it’s just an eye-opening realization that something is missing.
“After 18 years of chronic relapse and an inner war with myself, it was time to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. I knew what I needed – I needed to hit the reset button. I wanted nothing to do with the 12 steps, but I joined a program anyway. I sought out spiritual truths as it related to myself and began to embark into a new realm. I realized connection was the opposite of addiction. Through divine timing we’re connected through something greater than ourselves,” says Alumni Association member Marc. “I found what I was missing.”
Every situation, every person, every addiction is different. Use your best judgment when it comes to sharing your story. Sometimes, a simple “I was where you are right now. And now, I’m free” is enough. Other times, more detail is better – a powerful story about overcoming the seemingly-impossible could motivate just about anyone. No matter which path you decide to take, remember that sharing your recovery story can help you, too. You’re more likely to stay focused on your recovery when you remember what were likely the darkest days of your life.