In The New York Times, Laura Hilgers explains that could have many positive results. Those range from reinforcing the former problem drinker's sobriety to helping to remove the stigma which can often prevent treatment. Instead of deciding to enter rehab, the problem drinker would opt to remain in denial.
The recent presidential report on substance abuse, especially opioids, also recommends openness.
Of course, there are risks involved. Those are significant enough for those successfully in an anonymous form of recovery to keep it that way: under wraps.
A history of substance abuse can derail some careers.
For example, state bar associations put applicants for a license to practice law through a character test. If there is a record of substance abuse, the bar will investigate. That, at best, delays admission. At worst, if the bar associations don't like what they find, that could give the thumbs down.
For that reason, lawyers often form their own private and confidential recovery groups within 12-step programs.
It's much the same with medical doctors.
If it is made public that a medical doctor is impaired, eventually there could be a loss of license. However, there is, I am convinced, "high-functioning alcoholic." That medical doctor can practice medicine effectively and simultaneously be engaging in problem drinking. Being open about a current or past struggle with substances could bring the attention of licensing boards.
Nurses know to steer clear of any labeling that involves substance abuse. After all, many are around controlled substances in hospitals and in providing hospice care in people's homes. When my sister was dying in her house, the hospice nurse delivered the morphine.
Also, even in the former problem drinker's daily life, openness can bring on unnecessary problems.
If the person is acting "differently," it could be assumed she or he has been drinking. That itself can prevent a medical intervention for other possible causes. I bore witness to that in Tucson, Arizona, where the elderly listed in their medical records being a recovering alcoholic. That delayed testing for why, for example, they were having mobility or mood disorder problems.
It is also plain common sense that, at this point in civilized society, most ordinary people don't position and package their neighbor's or lawn mower's recovery as a grand achievement. Likely, it remains a negative. That could change. But currently that's the way it is.
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