You have probably met former addicts and alcoholics in your life and probably didn’t know about. It’s usually not something people in recovery announce. Unless you knew someone while they were in active addiction, you wouldn’t know otherwise. There is almost an air of secrecy when it comes to recovery. Most people in recovery congregate in church basements to go to AA or NA meetings, practically hiding from the rest of the population. Even the names of these groups–Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous–promote privacy and anonymity. However, what is the message being conveyed to people in recovery and the rest of the population? Shame? Taboo? Anonymity = Shame = Relapse It’s understandable that recovering addicts and alcoholics want to leave their old lives behind and start anew. Many people in recovery might feel shame and guilt for the mistakes they made. Shame is a powerful emotion that negatively impacts recovery. In treatment, addicts and alcoholics are taught about the dangers of shame in recovery and learn skills to overcome it. Outside the safe haven of alcohol and drug rehab, people in addiction recovery have to deal with stigma and the skewed view of addiction from a society that doesn’t understand addiction. So many recovering addicts and alcoholics hide by attending meetings in secret or scurrying into aftercare treatment. To keep the façade going, many people stop going to their much needed treatment. This breeds shame and guilt and leads to a relapse.
Recovery: Loud and Clear
If people continue to keep recovery away from the public, more people will relapse and more stigmas are created by society. As more people in recovery step forward and bring public awareness to addiction and recovery, more public policy is made to help addiction treatment and recovery.