Despite the stigma of addiction, I no longer keep my past a secret | BDN Maine

By Christopher Poulos, Special to the BDNPosted March 08, 2016, at 8:07 a.m. Last modified March 08, 2016, at 2:44 p.m.A year ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of writing so candidly about my own struggles.My willingness to openly discuss that I was once addicted to alcohol and drugs began on October 9, 2014. I was a newly appointed member of the city of Portland’s Substance Use Disorder Task Force, and Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, attended our meeting.Botticelli explained that he was in long-term recovery from addiction. In front of everybody, he told his personal story. That level of honesty and openness was completely new to me. Until that moment, I believed I was supposed to keep my past a closely held secret, lest people judge me. I was told, and believed, that being open about my past would cost me personally and professionally. But when I heard the director of our nation’s drug policy openly share his own experience, I began to challenge those beliefs.Several months later, I was beginning a fellowship at The Sentencing Project in Washington, D.C., and I met Botticelli again. We were both at an event on addiction recovery. People were talking openly about being in recovery, and some even spoke of having been incarcerated. I had never before seen anything like this, and I could not believe it. There was no stigma or shame. No one was hiding. These people, who are part of a global recovery movement and community, saw addiction as a treatable condition rather than a moral failing. The honesty and openness nearly brought me to tears. Everything I thought I knew about addiction was being challenged. The walls I had built, based on society’s norms and my own fear and misperceptions, came tumbling down. I stood up, and for the first time ever said, “My name is Christopher Poulos, and I’m a person in long-term recovery.”

Source: Despite the stigma of addiction, I no longer keep my past a secret | BDN Maine


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