Treatment Faux Pas: What Is A War Story And Why Should They Be Avoided?

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When entering treatment for drug addiction, there are usually certain things that are okay and certain things that are not okay. Depending on the program or facility, different things might be considered a “treatment faux pas” and are frowned upon. In some groups, discussing your addiction “war story” is something that should be avoided.

Before you can worry about what is acceptable and what isn’t during treatment, you should first contact 800-584-3274 to find out what treatment options are best for you in order to overcome your addiction.

What Are Addiction War Stories?

“War stories”, when it comes to addiction, are stories about a person’s experiences with addiction that might have resulted in a life-or-death situation.  They might involve moments when the addiction was at its strongest or even involve pivotal moments for the person in the addiction.

War Story

Sharing your addiction war story keeps you dwelling on the past instead of focusing on sobriety.

Sometimes, these war stories can be important in understanding the person’s addiction and how treatment can be applied. Keep in mind that every person is affected by addiction differently, so often treatment needs to be customized the person’s needs, thus there are times when war stories can be quite helpful.

Why Are They Not Okay?

There are three key aspects to successful addiction treatment, according to the NIDA: the person must stop using, remain drug-free, and become a productive person in their family and society. For some treatment programs, the easiest way to achieve these aspects and success is to look forward, not backward.

Sharing a war story about your addiction can be seen as something that is preventing you from moving forward. While addressing what happened and what you did while under the influence of your addiction is important to overcoming it, it can be detrimental to your sobriety and recovery to repeatedly dwell on the past.

For some groups, addiction war stories might be seen as a means of unhealthy competition, especially in group treatment settings. The DEA states that the effect drugs have is different for everyone, so it would be safe to say that not everyone is going to have the same experiences and war stories as the person next to them.

However, some might see it as boasting or bragging about your experiences, even though that is probably not what is actually happening. Others might be reminded about a negative experience, which can trigger uncomfortable or upsetting memories and affect their progress in treatment.

How Support Groups Benefit Your Opiate Addiction Recovery

What Are The Alternatives?

Not everything is appropriate for every situation, even when seeking treatment for addiction. For war stories, it might be best to keep them out of group settings, leaving them for one-on-one discussions with your treatment provider during individual therapy sessions.

If you’re not sure if something you want to share is appropriate for a group setting, talk it over with your sponsor of counselor before the session. Pay attention to the topics being shared at group sessions if you are unsure about what to talk about.

One alternative could be sharing a story about your progress in treatment so far or, if you really need to share your war story, consider wording it so that it doesn’t cause distress for yourself and others.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please know that help is available. For more information about what treatment options are available for you, please call 800-584-3274 to speak with a caring specialist.


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