Possible peer judgment should never stand in the way of your emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.
However, if you choose to remain friends with people who you once partied with, there stands a good chance that you are going to be judged for your recovery efforts.
Understanding Differences in Personal Experiences
One of the reasons for judgment exists in how substances affect individual users. If your drug of choice is alcohol, friends and family members who can drink without major adverse effects may not understand why you can’t do the same.
Coming from a family where alcohol is served at all holidays and dinner parties, I find myself sometimes explaining why I’m not drinking. Sometimes this makes me feel like I’m being perceived as a weaker person. A cyclone of thoughts starts circling in my head pertaining to my own inability to drink like those around me.
Unfortunately, I’ve never been a person who can have a glass of wine with dinner and leave it behind. I want more. One of the things that have helped me not to judge myself is continuous recognition that I’m just wired differently.
Overcoming the Stigma of Seeking Help
Another term of judgment around recovery is the stigma surrounding drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers. A stigma refers to a mark of disgrace that sets someone apart from the rest of society.
People who lack education or experience in relation to the complexities of addiction may conflate rehab with weakness. This perception is simply inaccurate.
Telling your friends and family that you are going to a rehabilitation center should never be viewed as a sign of weakness. Taking the step toward reclaiming your life takes immense courage. The lack of support from friends and family should never stand in your way.
Handling Fear of Relapse
We see magazines where celebrities are in and out of rehab, which creates a faulty view that rehab is in some way both a luxury and a revolving door. This is not the case. We are all individuals with individual circumstances and backgrounds.
Just because one person returns to rehab does not mean that you will. You are your own negotiator. In the end, it’s up to you. What will you take from what you learn and create? How will you perceive yourself if you relapse and return to rehab? Forget what other people think. Your well-being depends on your perception and your attitude.
Responding with a Sense of Empowerment
If people judge you, your reaction is what can help change the social consciousness. In other words, if someone implies that you are weak because you suffer from substance abuse, and you respond with a sense of empowerment, you have the ability to show people a different lens.
Rather than letting someone’s judgment beat you down, stand your ground, and let the person know that you are striving to be the healthiest and most refined version of yourself that you can. At the end of the day, your sobriety has nothing to do with them.
Our world operates in terms of binaries: black or white; good or bad; wrong or right. This kind of discriminatory thinking leads many people to quick judgment and slipping things into a category. If you understand that this is a common mode of operation, that is ingrained within the fabric of our perception to compartmentalize everything in our lives, then it makes it easy to disregard others’ judgment.
Yes, it hurts to feel judged. It hurts to be labeled. But as soon as you accept that this is the nature of the human species, the sooner judgment loses power over you.
Focusing on anything creates resistance. If you focus on judgment, you will create resistance, which will then cause you to feel like you need to fight against the resistance. As soon as you let go, however, the resistance disappears.
The only things that hold power over you are the things that you allow to have power over you. If someone says something judgmental about you being in recovery, do not allow the comment to take up residence in your heart or mind. Allow the comment to blow away like wind.
The bottom line is that people are going to judge regardless. You deserve to be emotionally, spiritually, and physically well—that should be your top priority.