Attention: You are using an outdated browser, device or you do not have the latest version of JavaScript downloaded and so this website may not work as expected. Please download the latest software or switch device to avoid further issues.

Stories > All Unshame CA > David's Self-Stigma Kept Him from Talking about Substance Use

David's Self-Stigma Kept Him from Talking about Substance Use

As a young gay person growing up in northern Utah, David didn't feel like he fit in.
David
David

As a young gay person growing up in northern Utah, David didn’t feel like he fit in. He used substances to cope, and they felt critical to his survival. “To be honest with you, alcohol—probably alcohol—coming out, leaving, individuating... those things were instrumental in my survival.”

David judged himself for having a substance use disorder (SUD). “The judgment and the persecution actually came from within,” he says. “The condemnation came from me.” Also, David’s job as a CEO prevented him from speaking out about his SUD. “The worst of it was feeling ashamed, feeling that I had to conceal my drinking,” he says.

Self-stigma happens when people internalize society’s stereotypes and experience low self-esteem. The shame—and the hiding—reminded David of another of his life experiences. “I was concealing a part of myself, just as when I was in the closet. There was quite a bit of shame, secrecy, juggling two, three lives at the same time.”

David decided to seek treatment for his SUD, but he was anxious about telling his supervisors and his team. “When I made that decision, just huge relief, huge relief came from me. And I realized I don’t have to do this anymore. I had to tell the corporate people who I worked for, I had to tell all my staff.” It reminded David of his experience coming out, and the outcomes of that decision in his life. “There's a lot of gambling when it comes to those things. You realize being true and living a singular respectable life is more important.”

In his recovery, David is making an impact. He runs an organization that creates spaces without judgment or stigma for people with SUD. “Every once in a while, I’ll run into somebody who thanks me. Those little glimpses of evidence that I’ve done something worthwhile, that keeps me going.”

 

 

Similar stories

Jessica

Recovery is not a single step, but rather a whole healing journey—and Jessica has grown every step of the way. More...

Yerson

Growth and connection can happen within a family at any point, and it starts with speaking up. More...

Pranom Found Care in her Native Language

Pranom’s treatment program coordinated a Thai interpreter so that we could hear her experiences in her words. More...

Ken

Ken knew that his relationship to drugs was different than other people's. More...

Amber

Amber's son, Dreason, had the brightest smile, and he'd always light up the room. More...

Most read

Yerson

Growth and connection can happen within a family at any point, and it starts with speaking up. More...

Pranom Found Care in her Native Language

Pranom’s treatment program coordinated a Thai interpreter so that we could hear her experiences in her words. More...

Ken

Ken knew that his relationship to drugs was different than other people's. More...

Have your say

 

Unshame California

Shatterproof is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization (Tax ID #45-4619712) under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

This website is powered by
ToucanTech