By Chelsie C.

Don’t you think it’s about time you forgive yourself for being an addict?
The sooner you forgive yourself the better off you’ll be. I’ve met many recovering addicts, like me, who can’t seem to forgive themselves for being an addict, even after years in recovery. We become so use to carrying this guilt around that sometimes we don’t even know how much it’s really affecting our lives. It affects things like our self-worth and what we believe we deserve. Consequently, we pass up many amazing opportunities because we don’t think we deserved them. In the end, it keeps us from making the most out of life.

Our society is constantly bombarding us with what it means to be an addict and those views are full of stigma, negative stereotypes, and prejudice. These beliefs are problematic for many reasons, but mostly because we end up internalizing them. We associate our negative beliefs of what it means to be an addict to who we are as a person. As a result, we feel immensely guilty for being an addict and sometimes even become self-loathing. We become insecure and often feel less than the people around us. We are more than our addiction, however our beliefs aren’t always logical.

In order to forgive ourselves for being an addict, we need to reclaim what it means to be an addict. Only recovering addicts know what it means to be an addict and only we should be able to give it meaning in our lives. Beating ourselves up for the mistakes we made while using is hard enough, but at least with that guilt we can find ways to make amends for it. Whereas guilt for being an addict is aimless. There’s no task that will scrub away the guilt for being who we are. We need to change our perception of the labels we use to describe ourselves.

Being a recovering addict usually means

– We’re intelligent capable people
– We’ve learned a lot from our mistakes
– Experience taught us valuable life skills
– Recovering addicts are survivors
– We beat the odds and achieve amazing things
– We’re strong-willed and determined
– We’re caring compassionate people
– We believe in second chances
– We believe people can change for the better
– We don’t give up easily

Being a recovering addicts has helped us develop great qualities that we should be proud of. We’ve survived extremely difficult situations and have become very capable people, even if we don’t always know it. Mistakes are often the best teachers and we’ve made plenty. We know the importance of giving people second chances because getting our second chance is important to us. We’re caring and compassionate towards other people who are struggling. Being a recovering addicts allows us to find solidarity with other recovering addicts.

We need to stop believing being a recovering addict is a bad thing. It’s ok to make mistakes, everyone does. Struggling with addiction doesn’t make us weak or foolish, it makes us human. Anyone capable of overcoming addiction is a strong person. Being a recovering addict is an asset, not something we should be ashamed of. Let’s reclaim the word addict and show some recovery pride.