Socialstigmais the extreme disapproval of, or discontent with, a person on the grounds of characteristics that distinguish them from other members of a society.

What I find ironic is that the general public sometimes views recovering alcoholics as being weak and mentally unstable, but in my opinion, recovering alcoholics that have been in recovery for years are by far the strongest, most peaceful, stable and grounded individuals I’ve ever met. I admire them greatly and hope to have even a small portion of their wisdom in years to come. If you doubt the strength of a recovering alcoholic, try to stop drinking for a year. Most people can’t live without alcohol as their social lubricant.

Almost everyone cares how others view them in a social setting. We are social creatures and we don’t want our peers to view us in a negative way. But how important is reputation? Should it be important?

The social stigma of being an active alcoholic pushed me into recovery. Most active alcoholics would prefer to be seen as a recovering alcoholic to gain the respect of his/her peers. However, the stigma surrounding recovery is the most difficult aspect of addiction/alcoholism. It makes it more difficult for people in recovery and their families to deal with their problems. It’s an additional burden the recovering alcoholic must carry. That is why education and outreach are the keys to removing the social stigma.

In my personal experience, I have learned to move toward the people that truly care about me and completely move away from those who gossip about my recovery with malicious intent. I’ve known people who have gossiped about my recovery, but in the past, have matched me drink for drink in a bar and some have had alcohol problems of their own.I try my best not to judge and show as much compassion towards them as I possibly can. Sometimes showing compassion for these people can be a very difficult task. In order to be compassionate toward others, I say the following prayer for that particular person:

  • May (insert name) be at peace
  • May (insert name)heart remain open
  • May(insert name) awaken to the light of their true nature
  • May(insert name) be healed
  • May(insert name) be a source of healing to all sentient beings
  • May(insert name) be safe
  • May(insert name) be happy
  • May(insert name) be healthy
  • May(insert name) be at ease

It’s amazing how your feelings will change toward someone after saying this prayers for a week or two. You will begin to find compassion for those that cause you the most pain.

Like the old saying goes “It is none of my business what people think of me”. The more we care about what others think, the less we take care of our own emotional needs. As recovering alcoholics, the stigma is something that we should put away, as it is an unnecessary burden.

There is nothing to be ashamed of. By living a life of sobriety, you are gaining great wisdom, strength and compassion for yourself and others.At the end of the day, we’ll all come to realize that our reputations are just a construct of our own imagination.


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