I’m very open about my sobriety. As is clear from my writing this blog, I work at an addiction treatment organization. Every year on my soberversary, I make a social media post about it. Everyone in my life knows I’m sober.
For me, that transparency is necessary. It feels important to do my small part to break stigmas, and it keeps me personally accountable. Plus, sobriety has been so good to me, sometimes I just want to share it with others.
That said, I am lucky to be in an environment where I feel empowered to talk about recovery. Stigmas surrounding addiction, recovery, and mental health are still very much alive, so that’s certainly not the case for everyone.
“Coming out” as sober is a very personal decision. You might tell different people at different times. No one should pressure you into it, “out” you themselves, or make you feel bad for not disclosing that information.
You might travel for addiction treatment to maintain privacy. You might decide to only tell those closest to you. You may tell everyone in your life, but on your own time. There is no “right” timeline. Putting pressure on yourself—especially in early sobriety—is not good for your recovery.
If you are choosing to only disclose about your sobriety to certain people, it’s helpful to prepare a response in case the topic comes up with someone you haven’t told. For instance, if you are at a party and someone asks why you aren’t drinking—and you’re not comfortable saying you’re sober—you may be caught off guard. Knowing what you’ll say ahead of time will take the pressure off. In fact, that lack of pressure might create the right circumstances for you to “come out.”
While it’s always best to do what works for you and move at your own pace, there are benefits to transparency. “Secrets make you sick” is a cliché for a reason. When you can present your full self to the world, openly and honestly, you set yourself up for success in recovery. Telling people also keeps you accountable to your sobriety. It’s okay if you don’t want to display your sobriety on billboards, but it’s a good idea to tell a few close people in your life.
Even if you don’t start out with a supportive network of people, you may gain one in treatment, support groups, 12-step fellowships, or other recovery programs. That’s another reason it’s extra important not to push yourself to disclose about your sobriety when you aren’t ready.
Sobriety can be scary territory, even without adding additional anxiety and pressure. When you do open up about your recovery, you want it to feel affirming. Who knows, maybe the person you’re talking to will see how well you’re doing and realize they need to get sober too.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is hope. Amatus Recovery Centers offer high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are openly in recovery themselves—will help you build a meaningful life in recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.