For those of you haven’t heard of David Sheff, he wrote a best selling memoir about his addicted son ‘Beautiful Boy.’
He has just written a follow-up ‘Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy,’ which explores the addiction treatment system and everything related to it.
He makes some really good points, some I agree with, some I don’t.
One of the most interesting things he discusses is that addicts and alcoholics should come ‘out’ about their past in order to spread awareness and break down barriers. Fear and shame prevents people talking about personal experience with addiction. Families really struggle dealing with the addict in their family because they don’t want anyone to find out. Sheff is advocating that more people are public with their experience of addiction.
For the record, I totally agree with this. However, I don’t agree with breaking the tradition of anonymity in the 12-step fellowships but I think that these can be two separate things.
I am completely open in all areas of my life that I am a recovered alcoholic. It’s just part of who I am. When you have worked as an addictions therapist it’s pretty hard to hide as the question you are most often asked is ‘how did you get into that?’
I am not ashamed or embarrassed, just very matter of fact. Because of this, I inevitably have people ask me for help or advice when they realise they have a problem or love someone who does. If I can help I do, I tell them there is hope.
My alcoholism is not a secret, it made me who I am an I am proud of what I have become.
I won’t lie, I sometimes enjoy watching people’s shocked faces when I tell them I spent most of my twenties drinking too much and snorting drugs. I can tell by their faces they don’t think I look the ‘type.’
And that’s the point.
Addicts and alcoholics can look like me, they can look like anyone. It can happen to anyone.
I used to think that alcoholics were ‘smelly old men on benches’ and because I hadn’t lost my job or got a DUI I wasn’t ‘qualified.’ I think a lot of people think like that and could get help a lot earlier if they had more information.
You can read the interview here.
What does everyone else think?