Sharing your addiction recovery story can increase the chances of a successful addiction recovery for you and the people you share with. Learn why so.
Last month, the addiction recovery story of a young addict from St. Paul, Minnesota went viral across the U.S.A. and beyond. Ryan Harder began his struggle with drug addiction at the age of 14, but it was not until his early 20s that he began using meth and says he experienced the darkest time of his life. Tempted to jump off a bridge to end his struggles, Harder instead turned to addiction treatment, and is now 9 months into his addiction recovery, living in a sober house and rebuilding his life and relationships.
Now 23 years old, Harder posted two very contrasting photos of himself to Reddit to show how far he has come in less than a year. He wanted to share his story in hopes of inspiring other addicts to reach out for the help they need. The story quickly went viral, which has hopefully not only encouraged others to ask for help, but helped motivate Harder to continue working on his sobriety.
How Sharing Your Addiction Recovery Story can Help You and Others
The majority of addiction treatment programmes include some type of group therapy or meetings where all members of the group are required to speak about their own personal experiences in addiction. And this, of course, is no coincidence. Sharing your addiction story is not only beneficial to you, but listening to others’ stories is an integral part of recovery as well.
How Sharing Your Addiction Recovery Story Benefits You
Physical symptoms of drug addiction or alcoholism pass relatively quickly once an addict gets sober. However, the psychological effects of the disease last many years. Sharing your addiction recovery story can help you heal from these wounds faster than if you kept the story to yourself. Sharing your story is beneficial to your own recovery in the following ways:
Helps you remember the consequences.
Whether you tell your story at a group meeting, or put it on the web for the whole world to see like Ryan Harder, either way you are reliving the harrowing details of your past. You are remembering the darkest times of your life when your addiction was at its worst, and talking to people about those consequences. Perhaps you lost a spouse, your job or house, or saw people around you die. The more you remember how terrible you felt and the bad things that happened because of it, the more likely you are to stay focused on getting healthy in addiction recovery.
Sharing such personal stories with others creates a sense of community. Some share their stories in rehab or support meetings, some share their stories over online support groups, and some might simply share to friends, family and other loved ones. But opening up and having people support you is a great way to minimise any loneliness you might feel in addiction recovery. It is important to know that you are not alone. That people support you.
Simply replaying your journey from addiction to recovery, taking time to think about everything that you have overcome to get to the place you are at now, should boost your confidence that you can remain in recovery without relapse. To have come this far, you are an incredibly strong person, and you can do anything you put your mind to.
It can be a rewarding experience.
Seeing the positive impact your story has on others can be incredibly rewarding. And the more you choose to share your story via various outlets, the more chance you have of inspiring others to get sober, to stay sober and to share their own addiction recovery stories.
It allows you freedom.
Past mistakes can often create feelings of shame or embarrassment which cause emotional distress that can trigger cravings. Sharing these feelings in a supportive environment helps free yourself from these negative feelings, and it opens you up for positive emotional feedback that can help you on your road to recovery. The first time you share your story, or even the second, third or fifth time, you will feel a little bit lighter, a little bit freer each time.
How Sharing Your Addiction Recovery Story Benefits Others
Sharing your own addiction recovery story not only benefits your own recovery, but it can help others on their own journey by providing the following things:
Allowing others to see what you have been through — to see what you have overcome on your road to addiction recovery — will encourage others who are feeling helpless. Knowing that someone has been in their shoes before and is now doing well will encourage them to keep going.
In the case of Ryan Harder who shared his story on the internet, he was able to reach a wide variety of people including addicts in recovery, current addicts, parents or family members of suspected addicts, young people who have been asked to try drugs — the list goes on. Many of these people do not fully understand the disease of addiction or what addicts go through. Educating people on the struggles and realities of addiction helps to decrease the stigma and start an honest conversation about the disease, hopefully resulting in more addicts getting the help they need.
For anyone who is close to an addict, hearing how you overcame your addiction can bring them hope. If they have questions, such as when did you know you needed help, or how they could possibly speak to their loved one, answer them as honestly as possible. Anything you offer could potentially help their loved one struggling with addiction.
Overcoming the Fear of Sharing your Addiction Recovery Story
Opening up to people you barely know about your past (and current) struggles is no doubt a scary feeling. But the above are just some of the many ways in which you can help both yourself and others by opening up. Start out on an internet support group if you are really shy, or write a blog. It will not necessarily go viral, but if your story reaches even one person, you are making a contribution to their addiction recovery success. An essential part of addiction recovery is a sense of community, so help that happen by sharing your story — for you and for others.
The Cabin Chiang Mai has put men and women struggling with addiction, from all over the world, on the recovery path; do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to join them.