Conversations About Addiction Will Break the Stigma

As someone who has been in recovery from alcoholism for 6 years now, I’ve had countless conversations about addiction and am often pausing to absorb another person’s insight. In my first year of recovery from addiction I was taught to slow down my thoughts and realize that my own perspective isn’t actually fact. Further to that, in the first year of sobriety I was actually like a toddler learning to walk again; my world had changed so drastically that I really didn’t know my own self.

My journey hasn’t been a smooth one, life never is. Just because I stepped away from the bottle doesn’t mean that suddenly my life was filled with unicorns and roses. The difference is that I’m now taking the time to learn skills to cope with life’s challenges in a healthy manner. When I was drinking, my life was moving so quickly that this simply didn’t happen. My thoughts were already on to the next thing and my emotions were swept under the rug or completely ignored. As you can imagine this was like I had a ticking time bomb attached to me and it would often blow up in my face.

Thankfully I got real with myself, hit the point where I was completely defeated and looked to change my life. This was spurred on by reading stories online of those who had come before me in recovery. People who were willing to have conversations about alcoholism and addiction are out here. Thank God they are!

Hand writing the word addiction on black chalkboard
Hand writing the word addiction on black chalkboard

These people’s insight showed me that it IS possible to enjoy a fulfilling, healthy, FUN life while being sober. For someone like myself, life without booze in our culture certainly seemed like a dark road to DOOM. Finding people I admired filled me with the sense of hope that it is possible.

It’s conversations like the one we’re having right now that can break the stigma of addiction which stops folks from reaching out for help. When you’re living with a dark shame such as addiction there’s very little chance you’ll be reaching out for help if you believe it’s frowned upon. We live in a culture where booze is legal and acceptable and pot is becoming legal here in Canada…the fact is for many of us the thing that could easily kill us is front and centre around us.

When my daughter who is 12 years old came to hang out with me in the living room the other evening, I had no idea that the conversation would go where it did. She said to me…”Mom, pot is going to be legal soon… are you going to smoke it?”

I almost fell off my chair but after a moment of consideration I simply said “nope”. She asked why and I respectfully asked her if she thinks that choosing to smoke pot would be a good idea for me. She’s been learning the effects of drinking and drugs in school and I wanted to see how much she knows. In the end she has a pretty good grasp on the physical and emotional effects of marijuana and we found an article which may be of interest Is Marijuana Addictive. The conversation was a solid example of how we can talk this through with others in our lives.

Ultimately it’s up to you what you choose to explore but in my world, being open about addiction is my only choice. I believe that hiding addictions or whispering about them leads to losses and it’s time to stand up and get real about it!

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4 Responses

  1. Great post Julie. It’s been roughly 7 years now since I walked away from the drugs & the people associated with them. It was a long hard road and still is! Having honest conversations with your kids helps them understand addiction better than learning it from a text book. I knew that drugs were bad but never met an addict who could share their experience/story/warnings so I knew them to “bad” because of text books and teachings. It didn’t stop me from becoming an addict myself & I think that meeting someone who did suffer from addiction might possibly have made a difference?

    I think that YOU are awesome for sharing your story with the world and I think that it’s awesome that your kids are confident in turning to you about such issues. That’s great parenting!

  2. Look, its tougher then anyone who hasn’t been through it thinks. Getting off drugs is one of the hardest things imaginable. It took myself 2 years to be fully clear and I can say I have now been dry for 13 years this August. I celebrate the day every year and it reminds me how good it feels to be dry and healthy.

  3. Addiction is a tough battle for anyone, no matter how strong willed you are. I definitely think we should start being more open in discussions about addiction. Maybe that way people wont think twice when it comes to asking for help.

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