Opening up about your sobriety can be scary, but you’ll probably reap numerous benefits as a result.
Get out of there!
For many people, sobriety is something that at first is scary, stressful and even a little shameful. There can be a lot of guilt associated with the need to enter recovery, and it can be difficult to tell people that you have decided to be sober. Sometimes it seems as if admitting that is also a way of disclosing that you had a problem in the first place. One of the scariest parts of being open about your sobriety is not knowing how people will react to the fact.
For myself, coming out of the sobriety closet was something I didn’t think I’d ever do in the beginning. I was ashamed of myself for even being in a situation where I had to get sober, and sharing that with the world was the last thing I wanted to do. But as time progressed, I realized how weighed down I felt by my secret. So one day I decided to be honest—with everyone. I posted on Facebook about my sobriety and braced myself for the backlash. But to my surprise, there wasn’t any. People were kind and understanding, and it made me feel like sharing my experience was the best thing I could have done.
There are numerous benefits to coming out of the closet with your sobriety. These are just a few.
1. If people know you are sober, they won’t unknowingly pressure you to drink. For me, this was a huge benefit. Since I had posted on social media about sobriety, most people in my life knew about my choice—even people who weren’t close friends. This was beneficial because when I went out with friends, no one asked if I wanted a drink or tried to get me to partake in the night’s festivities in that sense. People knew about the choice I had made and were respectful of my decision to remain sober. In early sobriety, it would have been easy to take a drink if someone unknowingly offered me one. But because I had spoken up about sobriety, I never had to deal with that situation.
2. You’ll feel as if a huge weight has been lifted. I know that being open about sobriety is scary for some people, or they feel as if it is a private matter. But carrying a secret is draining. It starts to weigh on you, and it can be harder and harder to shake the feeling that you’re not being honest with the people in your life. But once you tell people about your sobriety, it feels as if you can breathe again. Maybe this just means telling one person, or a few close friends, or even announcing it on social media. That part is up to each individual. But once you begin to let go of the shame and guilt associated with being sober, you’ll find that you feel like a lighter and more genuine version of yourself.
3. You may be able to help people. When I first got sober, I had people who helped me. They shared advice, and told me how they had stayed sober over time. I admired them for being strong and able to share their stories because it helped me in my own sobriety. I never dreamed that I’d one day be doing the same for people; through coming out with my sobriety, I’ve found myself giving advice to many people. Some of them are friends, and some are strangers. But it doesn’t matter because addiction is addiction, and people who need help are people who need help. Being able to use my own experiences for good and to give back to others has been one of the most rewarding aspects of sobriety. It is also what keeps me sober.
4. You can connect with others going through the same situation. Before sharing the fact that I was sober, I felt so alone in my struggle. My family members and a close friend or two knew, but that was it. Most of them were not sober. They tried to understand, but I knew they couldn’t really grasp what I was feeling and thinking. But once I was open about my sobriety, I found that more people than I would have ever thought had gone through something similar. People I hadn’t spoken to in years messaged me to tell me that they too were sober. And once I began writing about sobriety, the world really opened up. I connected with so many other advocates of recovery via the internet, and those relationships have gotten me through some truly difficult situations. Even on days when I really struggle, I know I am not alone. And that in itself brings so much comfort.
5. You’ll feel as if many people are holding you accountable for your actions. I truly believe that telling everyone in my life about my sobriety is the reason that I am still sober today. Once I told people, it became real. They all knew, and I didn’t want to go back on what I had told everyone. I felt as if I had shared my struggle with these people, and now I needed to stick to what I had said. And while this strategy may not work for everyone, it has worked for me for three-and-a-half years. All the people in my life know about my past and know that I am sober. I don’t think a single person would let me pick up a drink without questioning me first.
When it comes to telling people about your sobriety, everyone is different. The process doesn’t need to be rushed, as one person may be ready before another. Some may take more time to be comfortable talking about sobriety than others are, and that’s okay. But I can tell you this much: While coming out of the sobriety closet isn’t easy, it is worth it in the end.