Social Question

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Is the following typical of people's reactions to cleaned up addicts?

Asked by Neizvestnaya (22642points) May 31st, 2010

Is it typical people think the addict’s former behavior personality was better, more successful at work, more fun, etc.? Is it typical for people to regard them with suspicion or to give them the cold shoulder? Do they go through a period of confidence adjustment and then get their “groove” back? Do some people just really suck that bad that they’d tell a person they miss the “old them” knowing the “old them” was the unhealthy one?

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12 Answers

trailsillustrated's avatar

its about expectations. Some people are sort of jealous when the addict really does change their life. The key is to change the life enough to where it doesn’t matter what they think. Find new friends-coworkers, whatever.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I understand finding new friends or thinning the group to non-party friends but the co worker things surprises me because I thought there would be more support than suspicion or jealousy. Does the addict personality eventually get comfortable and confidence return?

marinelife's avatar

You can’t expect people to understand the “addict personality” and “addict behavior.” Some people just want to undermine others. Other people just don’t get it.

The responsibility is the addict’s to make the life changes to stay sober. That definitely includes changing friends and maybe changing jobs for a fresh start.

trailsillustrated's avatar

You will get where you just don’t care what they think. You will move on from there, no matter what things are like now. Like in any situation, there will be people who liked you better when you were down. Don’t give it two seconds thought. Do your job and don’t worry about it.

stemnyjones's avatar

@Neizvestnaya I’m sure my old job wished I never got clean. On speed, I answered a million calls a minute and typed a trillion words a second. When I got clean my work got considerably slower… and I became considerably less social, because drugs were no longer hiding my anxiety.

Don’t worry about what they think. Be proud of the huge accomplishment you’ve made.

(And don’t worry, we all go through it. Everyone on fluther who knows that I am a recovering addict with a baby thinks my child is going to have a horrible life, despite the fact that I’ve been clean for 2 years.)

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I think you are on to something when you say some people want to undermine or just like the person better as the one who was fun, goofy, all over the place and confident about it even if it was sloppy. :(

Buttonstc's avatar

It may also have to do with the fact that overcoming addiction is not limited to just stopping the addictive substance.

Recovery leads to self examination and rigorous self-honesty. This eventually leads to an increase in self esteem and self confidence.

On a sub conscious level, co-workers may dislike the change because now the former addict is viewed more as competition rather than someone they can look down upon.

They used to be able to regard the addict with a certain amount of disdain and think to themselves “well, at least I’m better than that screwup. I’m not an addict. ”

But when the addicts begins to get their shit together, which in itself demands a certain measure of respect, the entire dynamic of the previous relationship is now turned on its ear. Some people find this disorienting and uncomfortable and prefer the old way where they were clearly the superior one.

This is even more pronounced with close family members who were in a symbiotic enabling type of relationship to one degree or another.

That’s one of the main reasons that people new in recovery are encouraged to frequently attend support meetings. They usually aren’t getting much support from those who were comfortable relating to them as an addict but now have difficulty relating to them as an equal. It’s an interesting dynamic.

crankywithakeyboard's avatar

I married one so I don’t have a particular problem with it.

His family still doesn’t see him as a reliable, competent adult despite all the evidence to the contrary. It’s been 14 years since he got sober.

At the time his company was very kind, giving him time off for rehab and welcoming him back with open arms.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Wow, sure beats the hell out of, “what happened to the old so-and so? We need that guy back.”

Buttonstc's avatar

I think that the owners and/or management have a clear profit motive for providing rehab and retaining him.

This is different from co-workers who may perceive a threat to their little fiefdoms and are more comfortable having someone to look down upon.

Owners and management are fully aware of the time and money saved in retaining an employee as opposed to rehiring and training their replacement and the time it takes to bring them up to speed.

Retention (if possible) is almost always preferable to starting over from scratch.

But co-workers have no such incentives and (subconsciously, of course) just view him as another potential competitor for their slot in the rat race.

lillycoyote's avatar

I guess some people do, must suck that bad to say those sorts of things to someone who has beaten some sort of addiction. I remember when I started up smoking again after I had quit for over a year, I went outside a work to have a smoke and my boss was out there and she said something like “Welcome back.” I thought that was kind of sick. She could have said, “too bad” or something. It certainly wasn’t a good thing that I started smoking again. But that comment was from another addict.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Thanks jelly buddies! My addict friend has since moved on to another company and his confidence and success seems to be returning as well as him reporting the feeling of less stress. I hadn’t thought too deeply on it before because it had never touched me personally but it’s too bad companies don’t invest a little more in terms of moral support at least their past good earners. I don’t think there’s any kind of training for this like there is for “sensitivity training” but it might be a good idea. My friend was a six figure earner for a number of years and made good money for his team until he hit a glitch when he changed his behaviors but now seems back on the path… for a competitor.

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