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The Politics of Recovery… And Why I Despise the Use of “Stigma” as a Red Herring in Recovery

December 2019

Getting rid of the “stigma” in recovery is one of the buzzphrases of the last half-decade in recovery circles.

Even in hardcore drug addiction. We’re talking about people who will steal everything their retired parents have, just so they can stay high. We’re talking about drunks who are so self-absorbed, they plan time with the kids around watering holes so they can get a little loaded up while they’re driving the kids around. Personally, while there may have been a good kid buried way down deep inside, I was a complete and entire loser until I started fixing who I was by beginning a program of recovery. I didn’t care who I used up when I was drinking, as long as I could keep the game going one more day.

My problem with the way “stigma” is it is treated as what others are doing to the addict, somehow society is casting this so-called stigma on the addicted community. The addicted are being portrayed as victims when its the addict that victimizes everyone they come into contact with to stay high. Where this becomes a problem is when we take to finally stop digging our own grave and attempt recovery.

Everyone with a pony in the recovery show should know that in order for recovery to work, no matter which form of recovery one chooses to follow, the focus has to be, and forever remain, on self. It has to be this way because the rest of the world won’t quit drinking and doing drugs just because we do. The second recovery ceases being about self and begins being about what others do, we trudge the path to relapse.

I can only focus on myself in my recovery; it’s not how the world treats me, but how I view how the world treats me that matters. My reaction to how the world treats me is the only thing I can control. And this is exactly why “society’s stigma” against the addicts has no bearing on me personally.

  1. It is absolutely none of my business what anyone else thinks of me.
  2. It is entirely my business what I think of me.
  3. If what I think of me is bad, then I best get to work on changing how I’m living so I can flip that “bad” to “good”.

Trying to change everyone in “society”, especially trying to convince society that we’re victims after we victimize “society” with our behavior, is like trying to stop a freight train with a squirt gun. Conversely, understanding what we think society thinks of us might be useless and concentrating on our own recovery takes a decision and a little bit of practice.

The choice is yours, Don Quixote.

Oh, and one last thing about that squirt gun vs. the freight train – that’s exactly why people take on “society’s stigma” as having anything to do with one’s recovery in the first place. It’s ego-driven drivel. It’s only so they can, at some point in the future, say they were on the bandwagon that changed how society looks at addicts. They were on the cutting edge of societal evolution, after all!

That and a Buck will get you a cup of coffee.

At a 7-11.


  1. unironedman says:

    The man may not be cycling as much right now, but he’s on a roll this Christmas 😉

    A Merry Christmas to you and yours and all your readers, and stay safe out there on the roads.

  2. tammi1438 says:

    Thank you for this post. As you know I’m a clinician who had worked in this field close to 30 years. And I do not like the current narrative that is going. I have said several times we are creating victims and not victors with what is being put out there. I’ve said other things about this narrative but everytime I say it I get called on the carpet for “treating them like addicts” whatever that means. I think it means I talk about owning behavior, and folks get upset when I get to close to the truth. Anyway, good post.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks, Tammi. Sadly, I think they call that new recovery “evidence based” now, when it clearly would be more truthful to call it “bullsh!t based” because there can’t be any evidence it works.


  3. tammi1438 says:

    Dude. If I have to hear the phrase evidenced based again. I may lose my job..😂 I can’t even begin to talk about that….

  4. joliesattic says:

    You couldn’t have said it better.

  5. James L says:

    Really, really insightful post. As enjoyed your insights on addiction / recovery, Jim.

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