Blog

Addiction and Stigma: How to Overcome the Shame Barrier

09/29/2021

7 Steps to Start the Path to Recovery

By Kellie Ross, SouthLight’s Opioid Treatment Program Director  

One of the most difficult steps in overcoming addiction is being able to ask for help without feeling shame.   

We all suffer from bouts of guilt and shame for decisions we have made in the past, but we can’t change the life we had; we can only move forward. 

The guilt and shame associated with seeking help can be one of the largest barriers to overcome.

The guilt and shame associated with seeking help can be one of the largest barriers to overcome. If I ask for help,  I worry that my parents will know, my spouse will know, my kids will know, and my life will get worse.  The truth is that they may all know, but your life won’t get worse –it will eventually get better.  

Taking that first step is the hardest of all steps. It’s an experiment into an alternative life. One that you may not believe you deserve. One where you are in recovery.  

You deserve the very best out of life, and at SouthLight we believe that you are more than your disease. You are someone’s daughter, son, wife, husband, parent, and friend.  This path that you are on is one that you had to walk down to be your true self.  You had to experience the hardships, doubt, shame and guilt to get to this point.  

You can change by engaging in treatment, overcoming your pattern of maladaptive behaviors and embracing a new life that is out of the shadows and into the light.  

All the negativity that surrounds you is centered on a societal stigma that is associated with addiction.  Society says that if you suffer from addiction you are a bad daughter, bad son, bad mother, bad father—the list goes on and on. But you can change that internally and externally by engaging in treatment, overcoming your pattern of maladaptive behaviors and embracing a new life that is out of the shadows and into the light.  

Embrace your past and your mistakes.  Move forward with clarity and purpose.  Overcome your struggles so that you can help others. Change the internal dialogue so that you can be a voice in our society that changes the stigma.  

Embrace your past and your mistakes.  Move forward with clarity and purpose. Be a voice to change the stigma.

I know these things are difficult, but I also know that it is possible. I am not just the Director of SouthLight’s opioid clinic. I have a family history of addiction.  

I have watched firsthand the negative impact that is associated with addiction and Medication Assisted Treatment. I have witnessed the sideway glances, the embarrassment, and the judgement from people in our society towards my family members as they attempted to regain control of their lives after fighting this disease.  

I have seen the challenges but I have also been witness to the successes.  I have seen them go back to school, go to college, get degrees, raise families, and pay it forward for the next person who struggles.

I have seen the challenges but I have also been witness to the successes.  I have seen them go back to school, go to college, get degrees, raise families, and pay it forward for the next person who struggles.  

In my role,  I work to change that dynamic. To move people out of the shadows and into the light.  I work to empower you to take control and to embrace the past because the past has allowed you to become a stronger more determined version of yourself.  

The first step is the most difficult and it is surrounded by uncertainty.

Here are 7 steps to starting the path to recovery: 

Make a decision that today you are in recovery

Make the same decision every day, recovery is something you decide every single day. Get an assessment and an appointment.

Be honest!!!! No judgement here, tell us everything about you—the good, the bad, the ugly.

Build a relationship with your counselor.

Start changing that internal dialogue—replace it with “I am worthy.”

Own your mistakes—acknowledge them and then move on. Recovery isn’t a race, it’s a journey.

Be vocal!!! For yourself and your community—don’t hide who you are; embrace it and allow others to see the hard work and dedication that you have to your recovery.

No one is going to fix you—you aren’t broken, you aren’t a toaster, you don’t need to be fixed – we are all just perfectly imperfect and together we all make things better.  

When you’re ready, we’ll be here.

Learn more about SouthLight’s Opioid Treatment Program here. If you or someone you know needs help with substance use, call SouthLight. We provide a healing environment that recognizes the many barriers the people must overcome. Our clinic in Southeast Raleigh offers both Opioid Treatment Therapy and counseling to help people treat substance use issues with heroin and other opiates.