SHOULD YOU CARE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK?
One of the stumbling blocks to an individual admitting he has a substance use disorder is shame or embarrassment. Despite the progress being made toward the view of addiction as a disease and not a choice, there is still unfortunately a certain amount of stigma associated with it. It can be difficult to admit aloud that you’re in recovery, especially to people you don’t know well and who might react badly, like a potential new employer. What if you could just make yourself not care what anyone thought about you? Would that be a good thing or a bad thing? Opinions are hotly divided on this topic. Some people say no, don’t listen to what anyone else says, while other people believe that it’s necessary at times. For example, in the case of that job interview, it’s pretty important that the employer thinks well of you.
On the side of trying to please others, it’s a fact that humans are social animals. We don’t do well when faced with boredom and loneliness, which can lead to depression and other mental health issues. This is particularly true for people struggling with addiction. If you want to pursue a romantic relationship or even make friends, you’re going to have to conform to society’s expectations at least somewhat. For example, most people looking for a mate will at the bare minimum want someone with a job, decent hygiene, and a good personality. It’s easy enough to say, “I’ll go three days without showering if I want to” or “I’m fine living on government assistance for now,” but keep in mind that by bucking societal expectations you might also be depriving yourself of companionship.
Not caring what other people think can be dangerous. If you decide that you’d rather sleep under a bridge than look for housing, that’s absolutely your decision to make, but it doesn’t mean that a police officer won’t come along and arrest you for loitering or trespassing. It’s especially problematic for minorities to dismiss convention. It’s a sad fact that many people out there are afraid of what’s different, and they react to that fear by turning it into anger.
The real answer might be to care about what people think, but not to such an extent that it takes over your life. Yes, you should try to look clean and presentable for an interview, but there’s no need to spend an hour obsessing over which tie makes you look more hirable. In the case of addiction recovery, it’s important to understand that some people are going to view you with distrust, especially if you’ve hurt them in the past, but you can’t devote your entire life to making someone forgive you. Try to make amends, certainly, but there may come a point where you have to recognize that it’s time to move on.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.