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Should You Tell People About Your Addiction History?

man discusses addiction history with employer

One question people sometimes struggle with in recovery is whether they should tell people they are recovering from a substance use disorder. Most people would prefer to keep it to themselves. Although they may have learned to be open with their therapist, their 12-step group, and their families, they are also aware that many people won’t understand and they may be afraid of how others will see them. However, there may be some good reasons for being open about your addiction history. Here are some considerations for and against sharing.


Obviously, in some situations, you always want to be upfront about your addiction history, like when you go to the doctor, for example. It’s often a good idea when dating as well to mention it early on, especially since it’s likely to come up anyway and you don’t want to base a relationship on a rather important omission. There’s also a larger point about raising awareness. The opioid crisis has brought a lot of attention to addiction in recent years. Many people’s views of addiction have changed considerably, especially people who have been personally touched by addiction. Whereas addiction used to be seen as a kind of moral failing, most people now see it as a disease that needs treatment. However, a stigma still persists. This is partly because addiction is a largely invisible problem. People do whatever they can to keep it private. As a result, many are unaware they have a friend, relative, or neighbor who has struggled with addiction, even though most people do. Being open about your addiction history can help reduce the stigma of addiction by giving it a face and making the scope of the problem more visible.


As noted, despite a lot of progress in recent years, there is still a stigma attached to addiction. Although the majority of Americans now see addiction as a disease, many of the people who hold that belief are still wary about associating with people who are recovering from substance use disorders. That might mean being unwilling to be close friends with those people or being willing to hire them. For some people, being open about their substance use history may be too big a risk. It’s great to want to raise awareness and reduce the stigma, but you also have to pay the bills. If you’re in a position where revealing your addiction history might endanger your livelihood, it may be better to find another way to help others with substance use disorders.

Arbor Behavioral Healthcare offers an integrative and holistic approach to treat substance abuse and a wide variety of addictions, as well as underlying mental health and psychological issues. All of the addiction recovery programs offered by The Arbor are designed to heal the mind, body, and spirit leading to a lifetime of sobriety, health and wellness. If you’re ready to find healing and restoration in a peaceful, loving environment, please call us today at 844-560-7269