If you’re a recovering addict—or a friend or family member is a recovering addict—how many people know about it? How do you choose who to tell, and when to tell them? This is a question that gives most recovering addicts plenty of pause for thought, whether it’s in considering how and when to tell people they already know, or in worrying about whether to tell new friends or romantic partners.
The stumbling block for many people in recovery is that disclosing an addiction makes you vulnerable to the person you’re disclosing that information to. There needs to be trust on both sides to be able to comfortably make that disclosure. On the other hand, keeping quiet about the addiction and recovery process makes it all feel like a shameful secret, which is definitely not conducive to staying clean and sober. The important thing to be aware of is that there’s no right or wrong answer, and there’s no rules about who to tell and when to tell them. You can choose to tell some people and not others, and that’s totally fine. After all, you don’t tell everyone you know everything about your life, and there’s no reason why this particular thing should fall into a different category.
This article has more information, including some great tips on when and how to disclose, and some insight into good and bad reasons for doing so. The author, a recovering addict named Jo Harvey, makes a great point: that it’s more important to consider your reasons for disclosing the information than worry about whether to tell or not. Generally, if you have a very good reason for telling someone about your addiction and recovery, you already know the answer to whether or not you should tell.