It perhaps goes without saying that humans tend to be pretty curious. In many ways, that is a wonderful thing. If we were not driven to discover new things, we probably would be living very different lives. Curiosity, after all, leads to innovation and invention, and those things move us all forward in many different ways — usually by asking questions.
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But there is a downside to our relentless curiosity. Often, people have an intense desire to learn about things that are not really any of their business. We want to know if rumors we have heard about people we know (and even people we don’t know) are true. We want to be privy to secrets (in part because it can be fun to pass those secrets on to others). And we want to feel as though we understand the “real” story behind something (even when that story is not particularly grounded in verifiable facts).
The curiosity people naturally feel about all sorts of things leads them to ask all sorts of questions—and some of those questions may be quite personal. If you are a person in recovery from a substance use disorder, you may well find yourself on the receiving end of quite a few queries from the curious.
Now, it is possible that you are fully comfortable with answering the questions of friends, family, coworkers, and others. Or you might not feel wholly comfortable but find that you feel obligated to answer questions out of politeness or in an effort to reduce the stigma that tends to surround substance use disorders. Or you might be reluctant to answer personal questions about your substance use, your treatment, and your ongoing recovery.
No matter which category you fall into, we have good news. It is fine to answer questions if you feel comfortable doing so. It is fine not to answer questions if you don’t want to. And it is fine to answer some questions while still choosing to keep some information private.
To Answer or Not to Answer. That Is the Question
With apologies to Shakespeare, when it comes to responding to personal questions, the question you should ask yourself is whether you want to answer. If you determine that you do not, in fact, want to answer questions about your experiences, you should not feel obligated to do so.
Still, it can be uncomfortable to refuse to answer a person’s question, so it is a good idea to have some strategies in mind so that you feel prepared when someone wants you to share something you prefer to keep private.
Some personal questions will be easier to handle than others. For example, if you turn down a drink in a social setting, you are likely to face a question of two. You can decide in advance whether you want to tell people you are in recovery or if you simply want to say that you don’t drink. If you choose the latter course, you might be asked why not. “I just don’t,” is a perfectly acceptable answer.
It might be more difficult to anticipate how you might react to personal questions from someone who knows you have been in treatment. Such a person might ask you for details—and might even believe that doing so is a way to show support for your recovery. In those sorts of cases, you may need to be prepared to say something akin to, “Hey, I really appreciate your interest and support. The best thing for my recovery right now is to limit how much I talk about the details. Thanks for understanding.”
The truth is that the person who asked the question might not understand at all. Your decision to maintain your privacy might hurt their feelings. But that is perfectly okay. Your responsibility is to make decisions that support your sobriety, not decisions that protect your friends’ feelings. If they are truly your friend, they will get over it—and will, upon a bit of reflection, remember that your sobriety is more important than their curiosity.
If the Question is How Will You Get Sober, the Answer is Treatment
If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, you may be questioning whether you will ever be able to regain your sobriety. It can be extremely difficult to do so on your own, and it might seem like no one can help.
But Bel Aire Recovery Center can, in fact, help you get—and stay—sober. Our Kansas facility offers personalized care that includes medically supervised detoxification, a robust rehabilitation program centered on group and individual therapy (and that includes treatment for any co-occurring mental health disorders), and a continuum of care that will help you start your recovery journey with confidence.
Long and short: We can help you overcome a substance use disorder—no question about it.