I’m here to tell you that within all my years of recovery I’ve never felt like I was treated “less than” for being a recovering addict. My personal approach is to be upfront and honest in almost every situation. That includes first dates, job interviews and any other situation where I think people may look at me differently if they found out on their own. For me, this has always worked out in my favor. The only thing that I’ve had held against me related to my past lifestyle is my criminal record, and that happens quite frequently however I’ll save that for another discussion.
Society is much more open about addiction than they were a couple decades ago. When I was getting high in the nineties, Heroin was taboo. Many people had no idea what it even was. Sure, they had heard about it in old rock songs or movies, but most people thought it never existed outside of Southern California. Nowadays, unfortunately the stigma is almost completely erased because almost everyone is related to someone who suffers from addiction.
Being a recovering addict has actually given me more of a benefit in social situations than a handicap. It gives me something to speak proudly of, and is usually received with praise and compliments. This often makes me uncomfortable. On one hand I feel as though I beat the odds, but on the other I feel as if no one should get praise for spilling their life, making a huge mess, and then doing their duty of cleaning it up. It’s what we are supposed to do. It’s what we must do for our own happiness.
People, nowadays, are aware that recovering addicts are strong, courageous, intelligent people and live by a high set of moral principles (for the most part). That is the benefit that we receive. Don’t expect these benefits automatically when you are just thirty days clean. It takes awhile to earn everyone’s trust back. Change doesn’t happen overnight. You’ve spent years tearing a part relationships, lying to people and taking from society. So don’t expect society to suddenly be so forgiving, it will come in due time.
I say that to say this. You are not a victim. As a recovering addict you have no excuse. Try being honest, open and transparent with people. Sure people may have their reasons to judge you. Maybe it’s the way you dress, your purple hair, your piercings and tattoos or the fact that you talk like you’re from the streets, but very few will judge you because you’re a recovering addict.
Hiding behind victimhood and using it as an excuse for your lack of progress and accomplishments is a sure sign of those who fail at staying in recovery. Successful people in any sector do not make themselves victims. It is a shift in perception, a new mentality that makes all the difference in who succeeds and who doesn’t.
Assuming that people treat you a certain way because you’re white, black, gay, atheist, Christian, a recovering addict or whatever else is a mentality that becomes like a disease inside the brain that will slowly take you towards failure everytime. Successful people are NOT victims.
Embrace your past, stand strong in it, be honest with those that matter, they will appreciate you for it and for the most part, work with you. It feels liberating to embrace your past and be transparent about it, and if they don’t accept you now, working on the best version of yourself…..then that’s their problem, and they’re missing out on a miracle. 😁💪🏼