“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” –Henry Ford
There is a big difference between the disease of addiction and other health related diseases. When someone battling cancer has a relapse they are often surrounded with love and support, but when someone suffering from addiction has a relapse, most people cut them off and avoid them. The love given to someone dealing with cancer is withheld from some going through addiction. It is not easy to be around someone struggling with addiction, but does shame and isolation work to get them to stop using? I was at a conference last week and Brené Brown asked a very powerful question. “Does shame and isolation make people more or less dangerous?” Think about the implications of that question. We have realized for decades that shaming hurts people, yet it is one of the most frequently used techniques to control behavior. What we all long for is connection. It is the support piece that is often missing and what we, as humans, crave.
We are wired for connection. It is part of our genetic makeup. From the time we are born until the time we die, we look for connection with others to share this experience of life. Somehow in our society we seem to have adopted a belief that we need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and go on alone. While it is true that we are the only one who can choose our behavior, having someone to talk to and share experiences helps to shift our perspective. Successful recovery includes forming a positive social support network. We all need at least one close friend to be open and honest with in our lives. We need that one person we can talk to when we have entered a ‘shame storm.’ It is someone who can help remind us that we can do better next time and help us to see that all is not lost. Social support is a critical piece of successful recovery and successful living.
If you know someone who is suffering from addiction, take notice if people around them are using shame or isolation to try to change their behavior. Reach out and provide a connection. It may save their life.