• Easy Ways to Explain Your Disease
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    Easy Ways to Explain Your Disease

    After finally gaining the courage to get sober and stay sober, we successfully begin to recreate our lives in a way we had never imagined. Every day we are challenged on making good choices and remaining positive, even when the going gets tough. Our close loved ones know the struggle we went through, but sometimes our friends don’t understand our addiction in its entirety.

    Making Others “Understand”

    “Why can’t you have just one drink?” This is probably the number one question I consistently heard the first time I got sober. I actually feel like I heard it so much, that I convinced myself that I could have one drink. Then I convinced myself that I could have one oxycontin and so on. Addiction is a vicious cycle, as many of us who have experienced relapse can agree on. After countless relapses, I finally realized that making others “understand” your addiction and the struggle you went through is damn near impossible. It isn’t impossible because the world is insincere or that they refuse to understand, but it is not possible to make somebody get what you went through if they have never gone through it themselves. Unless someone has personally dealt with addiction, it’s hard to make them comprehend the fact that once you began using, all bets were off. Now, when someone offers me a substance, without hesitation I say, “No thanks. I don’t drink.”

    Asking for Support

    While many people don’t push me to drink or do drugs since I’ve cut contact with all of my old using buddies, I do have friends who have their medical marijuana cards and who socially drink. Sometimes they will ask me a few times if I’m sure I don’t want to smoke. Initially, this made me angry. It made me angry because I wanted them to never ask me again. I wanted them to understand that when I drank or did drugs, I was like an immovable object meeting an unstoppable force. It took me more than a number of times refusing to figure out that I just needed to ask for their support. True friends would support me and the ones who had negative things to say did not deserve my friendship. Simply telling someone that you don’t drink or do drugs–because it’s your choice and you would appreciate their support rather than their pressure–should be reason enough for them to stop. Now and again they ask if maybe my mind has changed, but once I give them a snarky look, they laugh it off and don’t ask again.

    Avoiding Details

    This is extremely important, especially if the friends aren’t close or have no idea that you were ever anything but the person you are today. Again, these situations are easier dealt with than many people believe. For me, I almost feel like I owe people an explanation, even if they don’t deserve it. That I need to share my story with every one because everyone will understand. While many people enjoy hearing my story and the struggle I overcame, some people don’t care and will never get why I chose to use drugs. Avoiding details can not only get you through a conversation you may feel uncomfortable having but it really isn’t anyone’s business unless you want it to be. If I begin to feel pressured, I even feel comfortable saying that someone close to me struggled with addiction, so I choose not to partake in those activities. In a sense, I’m not lying, because I keep my past close to me, but I am no longer that person anymore.

    For the most part, many of the pressure from friends to use drugs and alcohol are gone, because those we still have around us are supportive of our sobriety. It’s a big part of the journey to be open-minded to those who do not understand addiction as the people who have stood by us have stayed open-minded as well. Explaining your disease doesn’t require you to get down to details about the imbalances in your brain, but can simply be answered in a few short sentences.


    Cassandra Huerta is a freelance writer who lives in an extremely small Michigan town and lives life one day at a time. She enjoys regularly entertaining her six-month-old daughter and can thank her wonderful fiance and coffee for all of her work.

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