How These Survivors are Speaking Out About Their Addiction Experiences to Inspire Others
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Even with all we’ve learned about what a devastating and complicated illness addiction is, there is still a lot of stigma that surrounds the disease. So it’s no wonder that many people find it difficult to talk about their addiction, even if they’re on the path to recovery.
But there are a lot of recovering addicts who have found the courage to speak openly and honestly about their journey in order to inspire others who may be facing their own struggles. I’m honored to share a few of these stories — along with what I think we can all learn from these stigma fighters.
John and his wife blog about their experiences
Anyone in recovery will tell you that the hard work doesn’t stop once you leave treatment — in fact, every single day requires hard work. And for John, it’s important that recovering addicts are honest about how tough life can sometimes be post-treatment.
So John and his wife took a very brave step: they started their blog, Mabry Living, to keep an open conversation about some of the trickier tides to navigate during sobriety, both for recovering addicts and their loved ones.
“We got tired of trying to put on a front and look like we had it all together,” John explained. “So we said, ‘Screw it! Let’s just talk openly and honestly about how difficult it is.’”
Not only do John and his wife inspire others with their blog, but the writing helps them, too.
“It’s so cool to still feel heard,” John told me. “We’re able to continuously share our stories and our struggles.
“We want people to know it’s OK to not be OK after treatment. It can still be a grind,” he continued. “There’s that impression that you’re cured when you get out of treatment, but the real work begins when you leave.”
John also helps his fellow addicts in another big way: he now works for Addiction Campuses, the organization that helped him find sobriety at their Texas facility, the Treehouse.
Sally is open about her journey to help those close to her — and beyond
One of the challenges that people entering recovery programs often face is someone close to them still being in the midst of their own addiction issues.
Sally knows this all too well, as her father was still battling a years-long addiction when she entered a rehabilitation program.
“When I got home, my father was still using,” she admitted. “When I was in rehab, I worked with my psychiatrist and almost processed it like my father had died, because I didn’t know if he was going to choose sobriety when I got out.”
But rather than shy away from important conversations with him, Sally was open with her father about her experience — and the kind of life she wanted for him.
“I talked to him about it when I came home. And after some time, he did choose sobriety.
“He told me that he was waiting for me to get back to make his choice. I’ll never forget him saying that,” she said. “It’s very inspiring because it’s a trickle-down effect: I left and got myself healthy and put myself back together, and I was able to help him put himself back together.”
Sally now talks about her experiences at speaking engagements and on radio programs so she can reach as many people as possible.
“I’m able to share my story and help others, and that’s a big part of it — you have to be proud of the work you’ve done. Sharing that helps other people.”
Lincoln feels a responsibility to help others
Lincoln shared a belief with me that sums up how a lot of people feel when being open about the obstacles they’ve faced in their lives, whether it’s a crisis related to addiction or another life challenge.
“People with the ability to change lives have the responsibility to change lives,” he told me.
“I feel like everything happens for a reason. I didn’t always feel that way. I was kind of the woe-is-me type. But having the lights turned on and coming out of the other side of addiction, I know that I have the ability to help others who are on the same path.”
Lincoln recently celebrated one year of sobriety, and proudly shares his story with others for a very important reason.
“There are always people out there struggling,” he said. “I
feel like it’s my obligation to reach out and help people who want to make a
change. You can’t do that if you’re hiding. To be able to help others, you have
to be able to put yourself out there, because no one can reach out to you if
you’re hiding in the shadows.”
And for Lincoln — as well as these other brave souls — allowing others to learn from their difficult experiences has been a fulfilling journey of its own.
“It’s really brought me a newfound love of life,” he said. “I’ve been through it all. I’ve been homeless, I’ve been fired from jobs — I’ve been through a lot of hard times. But it’s only been this experience of beating my demons that made me think, ‘I need to be doing something more.’ I feel so much joy in helping others.”
I hope these stories will inspire anyone who has gone through or is currently enduring a difficult time in their lives — whether or not they’re fighting an addiction — to never be afraid to be honest about what they’re going through. As John, Sally and Lincoln have shown, there are countless people who could benefit from your insight.
Cecelia Johnson believes strongly in the power of good deeds and recognizing great work. That’s why she created RecognitionWorks.org. The site is dedicated to connecting those who’ve been awarded for exemplary work in their communities to companies and organizations that can help them continue their admirable efforts through donations, sponsorships, and gifts. By making these connections, she hopes to build stronger, more altruistic communities and citizens.