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Why the Stigma Around Alcoholics and Addicts, IF It Exists, Doesn’t Even Matter.

I’ve written a few posts about the “stigma” some believe is associated with alcoholics and addicts.  Let’s just say I’m not a fan and leave it at that… and there’s one simple reason; I was never a victim in my abusing days.  I have no room for that self-centered mess, but there’s more.

Friends, I earned my stigma and if you’re of the variety who over-indulged in booze or drugs, chances are you earned yours too.  I’ve never seen one of us quit drugs or alcohol on a winning streak, so a lot of collateral damage around us is normal.  Really, if I look at this a little closer, I earned the pre-recovery stigma that said I was not a good human being.  At the same time, I also earned the post recovery stigma stereotype, because of which I became a sought after commodity; recovering people make excellent employees (and employers) because we, if we’re doing it right, try to live a moral, good life.  We also show up for work on Super Bowl Monday.  Sans hangover.

Let’s take a look at what’s really important for a minute, though, if we truly want to be free of our addiction.  We have to embrace the simple idea, “what someone else thinks of me is none of my business”.

Let’s break that down a bit. This reality isn’t a license to be a piece of shit, lest we suffer the stigma of being a piece of shit. It’s not a license to be a drag on society. It is a license to self-assess, to work on keeping my side of the street clean (which means to look at my part in everything I do and correct what I’ve done wrong, not worrying about the other(s) in that equation, and to do the best I can to be the best me possible. Sober.  Clean.

If I do that, someone else’s opinion of me, especially if based on ignorance, is none of my business.

What happens to that stigma then?

Poof.

Now, if you absolutely, positively have to wear a stigma so you can fight something, anything, know that it’s perfectly okay.  Just know it’s mostly in your head (you’re projecting how you think society thinks of you onto society), and I’m not going to wear that with you, because I know why  one must fight “the stigma”.  It’s ego, and mine is back in the cage with my addiction.  In other words, to use a buzz phrase from two years ago, stigma abhors a vacuum.  Create the vacuum.

I keep my side of the street clean a stigma is none if my business. And for that I am grateful.