Recovering with Pride

By: Jeff Zacharias

Jeff Zacharias is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselor and Registered Dual Disorder Professional with several years of clinical experience in both the mental health and addictions field. As a therapist, Jeff offers a safe, supportive, non-judgmental environment in order to explore individual needs with a commitment to placing the highest priority on your care. Owner of New Hope Recovery Center in Chicago, his areas of expertise include all forms of addiction, interventions, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex issues, self-injury, eating disorders, trauma and more. Click here to learn more about Jeff.

Don't let someone's else's issue become your shame

Apr 02, 2013

Unless you live in Siberia, you’ve no doubt heard about what’s going on in the Supreme Court concerning gay rights.

Times are changing and there’s heated language from both sides of the debate. Much of that language has been divisive and if you’re a member of the LGBT community, it can have a deep impact both mentally and emotionally.  

How do you feel if you’re called any number of derogatory names and what’s the long-term impact on your well-being? For individuals who are not only LGB,T but also impacted by addiction -- in recovery or not -- there is likely an increase in the level of shame they hold due to the impact of these issues.  

“I’m not only LGBT, but an addict and/or alcoholic as well," they may tell themselves. "I must really be a terrible person! Who could possibly care about me?”

A word of advice if this resonates with you: You don’t have to own anyone else’s thoughts, feelings or words! Yes you are gay and also dealing with an addiction; yet you’re no more or no less than anyone else.

Now, this is easier said than done, I understand. But again, don’t personalize, don’t own someone else’s stuff. It’s enough just to carry your own shame about what you’ve done,particularly when in active addiction, but shame is a silent killer. It wants you to believe that you’re somehow flawed deeply in your core; that you’re not good enough; that you’re not worthy. For someone who’s both LGBT and dealing with an addiction, you get a double whammy.
Addiction often stems from someone trying to manage his or her feelings of guilt and shame, some of which may be partly due to being LGBT. Being under the influence makes it so you don’t have to look at what’s going on inside, nor examine feelings related to who you are at the core. The deceiving part of addiction is that when you sober up, guess what’s waiting on you?: the original feelings of shame, most likely compounded by even more shame for things that you may have done while in your addiction which leads to twice as much shame. The cycle continues and worsens but there is hope. It is possible to be LGBT, clean, sober and lead the amazing life you’ve dreamed about.      

The amazing thing is that being LGBT is more widely accepted now than ever before. Additionally (and unfortunately), there is addiction in every single family, so people are becoming more aware of, and more sensitive to, it. There are tons of people out there who will love and accept you, just as you are. There are lots of LGBT individuals in recovery: All you have to do is look around and ask for help, love, support and acceptance. It exists and the possibilities are endless for LGBT individuals to gain acceptance on all levels for who they are – LGBT and dealing with addiction.


Sarah  2244 days ago

One of the best ways to combat shame is by reaching out to others who can empathize with you. This post is such a great way to start a conversation and validate that no one is alone in their feelings of shame.

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