How to Talk About Addiction Recovery

Addiction recovery is a very personal experience, and no two journeys are exactly the same. Everyone is impacted differently and must find what works best for them in recovery. Plus, the stigma of addiction can make it harder to know how to talk about addiction recovery. But talking about it is what can help to break down these stigmas and encourage others to seek treatment for themselves or loved ones.

Some people are very open about their recovery and want to educate and support others and build connections. Others are more reserved and tend to keep to themselves, focusing on the support network they have built around them to keep pushing forward. Both of these options are okay because there are many ways to communicate through recovery. Whether your message reaches thousands of people or just one, it can make a difference.

What’s Your Comfort Zone?

Part of learning how to talk about addiction recovery is figuring out your comfort zone. Are you okay with the public knowing about your journey with substance use and drug addiction treatment, or do you prefer to only tell friends and family? Also decide what issues you’re comfortable discussing and how much information you want to share. Remember – it’s your story to tell, and what you share may change as time goes on.

Case-by-Case Scenarios

Some people find their way to communicate through recovery can change, depending on the situation. If they’re faced with someone who could benefit from treatment, they may open up about their experience with addiction recovery centers in the northeast U.S. But if they’re at a social gathering and someone brings up substance use disorders, they may not be as open to jumping into the discussion.

Connecting with others on a personal level can be a reason to talk about addiction for some as well. For instance, if you struggle with anxiety in addition to a substance use disorder and anxiety treatment has been an integral part of your recovery, it can be a way to encourage someone else who is dealing with a similar situation to get help. Gauge the situation to get a feel for how much you want to disclose and to whom.

How to Say ‘No’

Sometimes the topic of addiction recovery can pop up unexpectedly. If you’re at a party and someone offers you an alcoholic beverage, they may have a hard time accepting a simple “no thank you” as an answer. You may be fine leaving it at that, or you may feel compelled to elaborate a bit. This could mean sharing that you no longer drink because you’re in recovery, or giving another answer you gleaned from addiction therapy groups.

You have many options from ways to politely decline an offered drink to ways to excuse yourself from the situation. You can always seek out other people to talk to, take a bathroom break, join in a game or dancing, or head home. It’s up to you, and whatever you decide is okay. You don’t owe others an explanation unless you want to provide one.

Set the Rules

Find what works best for you. Addressing the stigma of addiction takes the efforts of many, so don’t feel like you have to single-handedly change the world. Start by confiding in close friends and family, and, when you’re ready, decide who else you want to talk to. You may find that once you’re feeling more confident and have a few years of sobriety under your belt that you’re ready to speak at events or to small groups. If this is something you’re interested in, there are many addiction recovery centers in the northeast U.S. and other organizations that can help you find opportunities to share your story.

Listen to your own instincts when it comes to how to talk about addiction recovery. Your decisions may change the longer you’re in recovery, or with each situation you encounter. Addiction recovery is a sensitive issue for many, so make it your choice where, when, and how you address it. Build on what you have learned from residential and outpatient treatment programs and help others to be more educated about addiction and recovery through your interactions, whatever they may be.

Crossroads supports clients along each step of the way and empowers them in their recovery journey, whether dealing with substance use disorders, eating disorders, or co-occurring disorders. Remember who you wanted to be at Crossroads and start your journey to overcoming addiction.