So you are an Alcoholic-To Come Out Of The Closet Or Not?
Posted Sep 26 2008 5:16pm
We might live in 2008 but the stigma attached to Alcoholism and Depression is still very much alive. The anxiety attached to the afterlife post-treatment is a reality we all have to face. I mean, who wants the guy in the credit department to know that you have not been on leave but in a rehab? That nosey next door neighbour? Do we really want him knowing your greatest weaknesses? What about that prim and priss Church congregation member who does not even like the colour of your Sunday ties? They all might have suspected something was wrong when you were passed out on the front porch at 2 o'clock in the afternoon but they did not have the nitty-gritty.. But to come clean and announce to the world that you a recovering addict. Not an easy one.
Imagine announcing this to the nosey neighbour while you are both watering the garden on a Saturday morning, "Hi Joe. How have you been? I got so drunk they had to hospitalise me. Then I got hooked on prescription pills and ended up having ECT to treat my Depression. Besides that I am great." So what is the best route to take? Obviously there are only two options. Shout it out to the world or keep it in the family and let nature take it's course. There is no definitive answer and it all comes down to the individual and how comfortable they feel with their new found status of a "Recovering Addict/Alcoholic". The world of keeping it a secret is best seen in the workings of the famous organisation Alcoholics Anonymous. The famous phrase "I am Alan and I am an alcoholic" spoken to a group of fellow addicts in a suburban hall or church is an image I am sure you are all familiar with. Their 12 Step programme to recovery and health needs no explanation. I do not think that I am far off the mark when I state that they have helped millions of sufferers over the decades. You can almost define the modern aquired knowledge for the recovery and treatment of Alcoholics as a direct result of the actions and deeds of this fine body. I can only sing the highest praise and if I was a drinker a toast would be in order. The same notions apply to Alanon and Narcotics Anonymous and the numerous support structures worldwide that strive to make the transition from addict to recovering addict a little more possible.
The fact of the matter is that I did not go the AA road. For me it was a personal decision to go public. I live in a small town (Margate, South Africa) and after my story was published in Mens Health I was then known as Alan, the recovering addict and alcoholic. I can never forget my regular bank teller asking for my autograph. To this day copies of my article pop up in Doctors waiting rooms and I will get a phone call for somebody looking for advice.
I basically felt that by going public I was reinforcing my will to stay clean by the added pressure of everybody who knew my story. As we are all aware only time will tell if I was correct. Another factor in my decision was the fact that I had my own business and there would be no pressure at work on me. On the plus side I have had the wonderful opportunity to help others who find themselves in the same boat. I was able to pass on some hard earned experience and hopefully contribute to another human beings road to eventual recovery. A priceless byproduct of my own fall from grace.
So to stay in the closet or not? I feel that it is a very personal decision based on a number of external factors, not least being your own resolve to stay clean. If you feel it will help you, go for it. But if the pressures of the workplace, your standing in the community and of course your own family's reaction are negative factors then thread slowly. The object will always be to keep you on the straight and narrow. Simple really and everything else is secondary.