Recovery is a personal journey, but it can feel as if one must decide between sobriety and social life. For some, choosing to pursue sobriety can feel like announcing their mistakes to the world — a powerful deterrent to an otherwise necessary recovery program.
Individuals always have the power to choose when to talk about their addiction, to which people, and to what capacity. One’s recovery can always be kept personal and private. Each individual should be empowered to pursue their sober goals while maintaining their privacy.
Know Your Privacy
Privacy is important throughout the addiction recovery process. Some may want to keep their recovery goals private for personal reasons or due to social anxiety. Others may want to avoid being treated differently in the workplace. While some may simply not be ready to openly discuss the vulnerable topics involved with addiction recovery with those who are not trusted friends or family members. When a person chooses to discuss their recovery is always up to them, and nobody should force the individual to share any information.
One’s rights to privacy also extend to the workplace. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act’s (FMLA) guidelines, addiction is considered a serious health condition, and an individual can apply for FMLA while having their privacy protected from scrutiny in the workplace. Not only does this shut down uncomfortable discourse, but it also allows an individual to retain their job while on leave for detox or other recovery programs.
Choosing who to confide in is a big deal and can create effective supports in one’s journey to sobriety. This does not mean that every person needs to know all the details of one’s recovery. While having supports is necessary, it is also important to have individuals with whom they can share parts of their recovery. Each person not only has the agency to control who they speak to, but also how much information to divulge to any given person.
Dealing With Uncomfortable Inquiry
There are a number of times that a person may feel pressed to talk about their recovery. For some, simple questions such as “how was your weekend?” can be difficult to answer, especially when a person is spending their time in dedicated recovery programs that they are not ready to discuss. Answering these questions with vague responses can satisfy a question without divulging vulnerable information. “Just hung out with friends,” or “Went hiking” can be simple, short answers that entertain the truth of one’s recovery efforts without divulging sensitive information.
Declining invitations to the bar after work or from old social groups who still engage with addictive substances can also be exceptionally difficult, especially after one has said “no” before. Maintaining one’s privacy in recovery can mean keeping notions vague, such as saying “I’m busy tonight,” or “I have an early morning tomorrow.”
It is important to remember that nobody is ever owed an explanation if a person is not willing to give it, and simply distancing themselves from these situations can be the most effective way to cope with prying people. Using vague responses to questions can be important when prioritizing an individual’s privacy and emotional security.
While some may want to utilize their experiences to deconstruct harmful stigmas around addiction and recovery, this is not something to be rushed. For those navigating their recovery in a healthy, empowered state, these same inquiries can be opportunities to change the perception of addiction for those who have not lived through the destructive disease themselves.
Confronting Unavoidable Situations
There may be times when a person needs to acknowledge their own recovery, most commonly during job interviews. Explaining a gap in an individual’s resume while they were engaged in recovery can be difficult without addressing the truth, and lying in interviews can be a dangerous prospect. While some employers may be satisfied with answers such as “I was on a medical leave” and will only want to confirm that it would not impact their ability to perform a job well, others may still ask further questions. Although, there are ways to navigate this situation.
First, it is important to keep the conversation focused on the present. By redirecting questions to a person’s current skills and situation, they can distance themselves from inquiries about their past and instead be judged on their progress rather than past mistakes. By referencing other parts of their resume that would make them qualified for the job, an individual can keep the interview moving and focused, while still acknowledging the truth and their current qualifications in equal measure.
Choosing to be upfront is also an exercise in honesty that employers may respect, but which path is best will depend on the individual. It is illegal to discriminate against employees or potential employees who have suffered from addiction, provided they are not currently using addictive substances. This protection can be instrumental in creating a fair space in the professional sphere.
A person’s privacy is always their choice, and everyone should be able to take their time before opening up about their treatment and recovery. Being selective about who to discuss one’s recovery with ensures that they have the best support surrounding them during each step of the process.
Privacy is an important part of the recovery process, and talking about your recovery and sobriety before you are ready can be exceptionally difficult. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center, we understand the personal nature of recovery and sobriety, and we are committed to helping you balance your sober journey with your personal and social life. We are prepared to help you embrace new communication strategies to best connect with supports and loved ones, while also instilling essential strategies to keep your recovery private and personal. Along with our personalized programming and various approaches to your treatment and recovery, your time with us is based on your own unique needs, goals, and desires for privacy in your journey. For more information on how we can help you, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (714) 492-1119.