There is so much stigma around addiction.
Have you heard the judgments, opinions and misconceptions? Do you have them?
They're just weak.
Just get over it.
It's not that big of a deal.
What's wrong with me?
Don't talk about it.
Are you crazy?
Why are you doing this again?
Why are you doing this to me?
It's time to name these beliefs about addiction you hear or say to see where misunderstanding and misconception might be keeping you stuck. Denial makes healing impossible.
Someone recently asked me how to ask for help with his drinking that had gotten out of hand. I was so honored that he asked me this, took the chance to get vulnerable and open up this conversation. Addiction is an epidemic worldwide yet there is still stigma around saying "I need help." This is an important conversation more of us need to have.
Addiction in itself keeps people limited until the habits are arrested. Think of addiction like having a spell cast over you, keeping you hooked into something that is intriguing and harmful all at the same time. Addiction meets a need that hasn't been met in other ways. It's not a character flaw or sign of weakness. It's a response to trauma a lot of the time.
Why would someone who has been hurt deserve to be judged for it? Addiction is similar to this dynamic. Have you ever hear "hurt people hurt people" statement? As an addict I know that being so filled with hurt I didn't know how to express led me to hurt myself and other people in the process. I used drugs and other habits to check out because I didn't know how to face the pain in me. I have now been sober for over 14 years and am still learning about what it means to deal with addiction and be in a daily recovery journey.
Having an addiction does not make you weak. Being addicted to a substance, reliant on a habit or feeling unable to make a change you want to make does not mean there's something wrong with you. It means you need help.
Addiction comes with being human for many of us. It can be really scary to say "I need help." The questions about what might happen when you get vulnerable and expose your addiction can be really uncomfortable to sit in. "Will they judge me?" "What if I cannot get better?" "Who will I be without this drug, drink or habit?" "Why can't I just slow down on my own?"
What's scarier than saying "I need help" is not facing the addictions that are stealing your life.
One of the surefire ways to turn that fear of being judged because you need help is to look at the gifts of giving. How does it feel to give to someone you love? Isn't it comforting and enlivening to see someone light up when you give them a smile for no reason other than to share your love? This is the gift of giving. People need help all the time, many don't say it out loud but need it just as much as anyone who does. Reframe what it means to need help my seeing the gifts in giving. By you saying "I need help" you are giving someone the opportunity to share their experience, strength and hope with you.
Maybe they need you as much as you need them. Have you ever considered that?
Take some time today to write down how your life has been enriched by what you've given others. Think about when people you know or love, or even complete strangers, have been in a place of need. How did it add value to you and them for you to give to them? Make a list of how you felt when giving, how others reacted when you helped them, note the ways you felt more connected to love by helping someone else. Now write down anyone that you trust to be real with. Trust doesn't mean it won't be uncomfortable, but success is built on inconvenience.
Sobriety isn't convenient. Learning new ways to be and live won't be comfortable a lot of the time. Anything worthwhile isn't easy, it's so worth it though. Change can be challenging. Growth is glorious. One leads to others and asking for help then receiving it is the bridge from one to the other.
Choose yourself. Challenge those fears trying to hold you back. Claim your strength and say "I need help." Watch the change start to happen. You are worth it, this addiction can be overcome, you are not alone, hope is here for you.
Darcy Helene Meehan
As an advocate of Reinvention + Recovery, I work with clients to achieve balance, alignment and purpose in all areas