Privacy for the Addict

"There are many factors that are important for successful addiction recovery: support from loved ones, patience, counseling, group support, and time. These aspects all seem fairly obvious, but what about privacy? Is it necessary to recovery? Is it important? How much privacy can an addict be entitled to and expect when entering a rehabilitation program? And what do you as the loved one of the addict need to do to maintain an acceptable level of privacy? The answers to these questions can vary greatly depending on the person in recovery and her family and friends. Just be sure that you as the addict’s friend or family member respect her wishes when it comes to privacy.

The Role of Friends and Family in Recovery

When a person makes the very important decision to quit a habit and take the path towards recovery, the love and support of friends and family can make or break the process. When family is absent, or even worse, unsupportive and destructive, recovery becomes even more of an uphill battle. Success rates when it comes to avoiding relapse are always higher when supportive friends and family are involved.

Although you as a friend or family member are invaluable to the recovery of your addict, you can inadvertently cause harm as well. In today’s world of sharing via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, it can seem like second nature to post something about your addict. Maybe you mention his excellent steps towards recovery, or maybe you bemoan a setback. Maybe you are venting your own frustrations over the difficulties of dealing with and helping this person get better. This can be very destructive. It can hurt your relationship with the addict and hurt his recovery. You are a crucial cog in the wheel of this person’s success in recovery, but you can cause setbacks as well. Always be aware of the power you wield.

You’re Hurting, Too

It is monumentally difficult to be an addict in recovery. But being the sober support group of an addict is no walk in the park either. Your addict may be a spouse, brother, sister, child, or a friend. Whatever the relationship, you suffer when this person abuses substances. She has probably lied to you, maybe even stolen from you, and she has undoubtedly abused your trust and your caring feelings towards her. So when you decide to support this person and do all you can to help her as she chooses to go through a recovery program, you probably deserve a medal.

Support groups for the loved ones of addicts exist for a reason. Helping someone through recovery is very difficult and can try your patience, stress you out, and make you feel hopeless at times. It can be very tempting to vent your frustrations and air your grievances in the course of your regular Facebook activities. Without even thinking, you may post a status about your addict and the hurts he has caused you. It is important, though, to stop and think before you do that. You may be hurting and frustrated and angry, but that still does not give you the right to share someone else’s personal problems with the world.

You Can Share, But Beware

With all the support you have given your addict and all the pain and suffering you have been through because of her, you are certainly entitled to vent and share your feelings about it. But, you must do so while still respecting her privacy. Before you share anything on Facebook, talk with your addict about how much sharing she is comfortable with. If the answer is zero, then you cannot post anything about it, as much as you may want to.

Sharing and talking about your feelings is a really great way to cope and maintain your sanity throughout this process, but do it the right way. Confide in one person who is also in on the recovery. If the addict is your sister, talk with your brother about it. Share your frustrations and feelings with each other. Sharing in a support group is also acceptable. You and your addict can remain anonymous in these groups and yet you can still vent and share.

In spite of everything your addict has put you through, he is still entitled to privacy. Respect his wishes and keep your sharing to appropriate places. By doing so, you will help yourself get through this without jeopardizing his recovery or privacy.

Posted on July 1st, 2012

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