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 Post subject: shame
PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2008 10:58 am 
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Everytime I have entered treatment there has been a great deal of shame. That I am a woman, mother, and health care professional (you should know better). I think the anonymity and secrecy of AA/NA has unintentionally contributed to this. Also, how many health care student programs address addiction? Treatment has changed over the years. The first time I entered treatment in the early 80's it was all about breaking you down and pointing out your character defects. Not once in 30 days of inpatient treatment was the idea that I had a disease and should not be ashamed, discussed. And I had entered voluntarily.
Treatment programs have improved but there is still so much stigma in society yet today. No one wakes up one day and says, "I want to be an addict/alcoholic".
Part of my shame had to do with my mothers teaching that people with mental illness were weak. I was also told to gut it out. Another part of my shame came from fellow health care professionals who made negative comments about people wanting more pain medication or the "drug seekers" in the emergency room. Who's going to ask for help when you know that your going to be seen as an outcast by your co-workers? Who can afford to have your career taken away by licensing boards? And who wants to be the subject of gossip that is so common in many work places?
Shame can kill us not only emotionally but physically by continued drug use. Its a cycle, we use to numb the shame and guilt & then feel shame and guilt because we can't stop using.
We have a disease that we did not want. We should not feel ashamed. I've finally resolved my shame with alot of work and by focusing on the future. If I focus on the past and all the people I've hurt, it only contributes to my shame. We are not bad people, we do bad things to keep our addiction going, and usually its to prevent the sickness of withdrawal.
Anyone who is reading this, don't let your shame kill you. Please go and get some kind of treatment. Start by reading web sites like these. There is such a sense of freedom in taking off the mask and putting this awful disease into remission.
Can anyone relate?


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 01, 2008 12:45 am 
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I agree with you completely about the stigma and the gossip. I also work in the healthcare industry and if anyone really thinks their medical information is protected to the point of being “secret” like health care facilities would like us to believe, they better think again. One employee had to go into the mental health ward because of addiction. She was a friend of mind so I knew what was going on with her from her own words. But when other employees saw that she was a patient all the gossip started. An employee is friends with one of the medical staff and so they ask what’s going on with this person. The nurse there spills the beans to this employee and tells her not to say anything and that she’s only telling her because she’s a close friend. Well, you know the old saying about secrets…the only way two people can keep a secret is if one of them is dead. So, this employee tells another and tells them not to say anything to anyone and before you know it half the employees in the hospital know this employee/patient’s private medical information. When she got released and went back to work things were so difficult for her that she ended up having to quit. There wasn’t anything she could prove enough to suit the hospital.
But the stigma is there even within the medical profession and the people who treat us. I’ve had doctors take one look at what I was on and they no longer had an interest in finding out what was causing my complaint that I came to them for. As far as they were concerned it was all drug related. It’s really a shame that people don’t understand we can’t help what we have any more then someone with Polio.
Rae


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 2:14 am 
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I am also a health care professional and understand your shame. I was suspended from my job for drug use and everyone I worked with knew about my addiction. I was so embarrassed I could not even talk to my co-workers for months. With my experience I found out there were other workers from my facility that had the same problem. Surprising to me I got a lot of support from my co-workers and even managers and human resources. I'm sure there were a few people who put me down but I did not give enough credit to most for being sympathetic and understanding of my situation. Family and friend support, counseling, and support from NA meetings helped me to hold my head up high and not be ashamed as we all have problems. I was able to work again at this same facility and again was suspended from work due to my addiction. The shame and embarrassment was overwhelming but I maintain hope that my life and career will get on track. I remind myself frequently that I can't let shame and guilt bring me down in my recovery. I have to do this for myself and my family and really don't care what anyone else thinks. As long as I know I am doing the right things in recovery then I have nothing now to feel guilty or shameful about.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:14 pm 
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I sit here alot and think of how to go about getting my life together. I usually end up thinking about all kinds of other things. The thing that I keep coming back to these last few days is that most everyone who ends where we are kind of starts out in the same place. We are lacking something. Something that prevents us from being how we think everyone else is being. Whether its alcohol or opiates or something else. We haven't been able to deal with certain aspects of life. It might be something we were born, with an imbalance of some sort, or some outside occurence we haven't been able to deal with in a healthy way. We have been told from a young age that you are supposed to feel certain ways about certain things and when we can't we start looking for a way to feel the way we think we should. All of the advances in modern medicine has kind of taught us that there's a pill for everything so to speak. And we go searching for a way to feel beter. The whole self medicating side to our disease. I think even people who ended up here due to an illness or injury can relate to some of this because you were given a pill from a doctor that was supposed to make you feel better. It doesn't make us bad people for being this way and shouldn't be treated this way. I think it goes back to the argument that this is in fact a disease of some sort. I'm not sure how I feel about the whole disease label. I definatly think it doesnt hurt. But I do believe that this something that comes from something that is beyond our control. You wouldn't single a person out because they have a handicap whether it be from birth (coping mechinism) or from a car accident ( injury or illness) so why do people feel the need to do it to us. For what ever reason each of us was made the way we are the good, the bad, and the ugly. So I feel that we have anything to be ashamed of just because we are not like everybody else.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:57 pm 
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I totally agree with your post, I as well as other addicts I know have mentioned many times how different they felt from other people from a very early age. I do think the disease label fits, no one here wanted to destroy their lives and who here didn't want to stop? didn't try to stop? time and time again only to find we couldn't. I really don't think it's me trying to avoid personal responsibility by believing that many things led to me becoming an opiate addict and I wasn't in control of any of them. I certainly do however accept responsibility for horrible things I did to not get dope sick but I've seen alot of normies do drastic things to avoid extremely painful experiences as well, does that make us somehow worse people than others?

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"If you're going through hell, ....keep going!"
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:06 pm 
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I don't think it makes us worse at all. Everybody has problems some people I think are just better equipped to deal with them. I don't disagree with the disease label either really. Until this site I had never give it much considration whether it was or wasn't. I had myself kind of come to think of it as a handicap of sorts. Not the addiction itself just the reasons for it happening to me. The things that led up to my becoming an addict. I, like you, feel horrible about things done not to be sick. And I feel responsible for the bad things that were done. I don't want anybody to think that I am looking to get out of that responsibilty either.
When I was younger I was constantly trying to be normal or what I thought normal was. Later on I realized that normal was a relavent thing. By then I had myself in such a mess I didn't know which way was up so to speak. I guess I just ment was no body says I want to be a junkie or a drunk when I grow up. For some reason some of us just seem to fix our problems with other means than "normal" people. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't be held accountable for the things we did either. I'm talking about self medicating or personal reasons for the addiction not illness or injury.
I know what you mean too about normies doing extreme things. I just didn't want anybody to misunderstand what I was saying. I just think that if more people took the time to understand the whole picture instead of what they think they know about us we might not be looked down upon so much.


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