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Dealing with Awkward Questions in Addiction Recovery

awkwardOne of the things that can be difficult when breaking free of addiction is dealing with questions from other people. It is up to you to decide how open you want to be about your recovery. If you are not prepared for the questions that others ask, it can lead to some awkward moments; it can even create a situation where you feel pressured to relapse. Below are just some of the awkward questions you may face while in recovery.

Why Don’t You Drink Alcohol/Use Drugs?

If you are offered alcohol or drugs but say ‘no’, you may be asked to give an explanation – this is more likely to happen with alcohol. Using these substances is considered normal in many groups, so the fact that you are not engaging in the behaviour can become a topic of interest. This can be a tricky situation to deal with.

You are under no obligation to tell anyone about your history of substance abuse or the fact that you are in recovery. It is up to you to decide how much information you want to reveal about yourself. Admitting that you are in recovery can make it easier for others to understand the fact that you are abstaining from alcohol or drugs, but it can also lead to further questions about your private life.

It is often those caught up in substance abuse who become most vocal about those not engaging in this behaviour. These individuals can feel threatened by non-drinkers or drug users because they may see it is a reminder of their own problems. This type of person can also try to talk you into a relapse if they find out you are in recovery.

It is important that you have an answer ready when people question you about the fact that you are not drinking or using drugs. In most situations, just saying, “I just don’t drink/use drugs” will be enough. It is usually best not to get into a long explanation as this just invites more questions.

Are You Going to Remain Sober Forever?

If you belong to a 12-step group, you probably subscribe to the ‘one day at a time’ philosophy. This means that you see your recovery as a daily reprieve based on you doing the right things; giving up alcohol/drugs forever is too much of a challenge so you just do it for today. Others in recovery do commit to giving up alcohol or drugs forever, so it is up to you to decide where you stand on this issue.

It can be hard for individuals not familiar with the 12-steps to understand the one day at a time philosophy. If you say that you are just staying sober for today, they may see this as a temporary thing for you and that you may be on the verge of drinking or using drugs again. Sometimes it can be better to just simply say that you have no intention of ever drinking or using drugs again.

Do You Have a History of Alcohol or Drug Abuse?

If you are applying for a job or making some other type of application (for example, life insurance), you may be asked about your medical history. Alcohol or drug addiction is usually considered an important factor, so you will be expected to reveal this information. If you fail to do so, it could lead to problems later on.

The fact that you admit to a substance abuse problem can affect the way others assess your application. Addiction is very common and most people are understandable, but there are those who still hold a judgemental attitude, deciding to hold this information against you. This is why you may decide to withhold this information in certain situations; it all depends on the type of application, your own personal ethics, and the consequences of not revealing the information.

If you have been in legal trouble due to alcohol or drug use or if you have ever received any type of addiction treatment (or medical treatment related to the effect of substance abuse), it will be riskier to attempt hiding this information. The employer or insurance company could later come across this information and use it against you. If you were a high function substance abuse who never received any type of addiction treatment, it might be less of a risk to avoid mentioning it.

One of the key ideas of addiction recovery is that you are only as sick as your secrets. This is why groups like Alcoholics Anonymous encourage members to be as honest as possible in their dealings; hiding the fact that you have a history of addiction from people like employers could be seen as behaving dishonestly. It is up to you to decide on how you feel about the ethics involved in revealing or concealing this information, but it can be a good idea to seek the advice of others in recovery.

Why Did You Stop Drinking?

The usual stereotype of an alcoholic is not very flattering. When you tell people you are in recovery, they may assume the worse – even though most alcoholics are high functioning. This is another situation where you need to decide about how much information you want to reveal. You may just decide to say that you had enough of drinking and decided to give it up. There is no reason why you have to give a blow-by-blow account of your life in addiction unless you want to.

Can You Still Drink Beer or a Shandy?

Many people assume that alcoholics only develop problems because they abuse hard spirits. In some parts of the world (for example, Russia), beer is considered to be almost the same as a soft drink. The reality is that it is possible to become addicted from abusing any alcoholic drink, including beers. It is important that you make it clear that you do not drink any alcohol, not even a shandy. If you are recovering from recreational drug addiction, you may decide to still drink alcohol. There are many reasons why this can be a very bad idea, but it will always be your call.

Do You Have an Addictive Personality?

It is common for those falling into one type of addiction to be susceptible to other forms of addiction; for example, many turn to comfort eating in recovery. The idea of an ‘addictive personality’ is very popular at the moment, so you may occasionally be asked this question. It is a difficult question to answer because the concept of an ‘addictive personality’ is vague. It is also certainly possible to break free of addiction and not fall victim to other addictions. It would be fair to say, though, that those in recovery do tend to have a higher risk of turning to maladaptive behaviours (for example, workaholism, exercise addiction, or shopping addiction).

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