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Does Shady Behavior Become Normalized Among Recovering Addicts?

Shady behavior…you know what we mean, “lying, cheating, and stealing.” Maybe now that we’re clean and sober, it’s not so clear-cut but, there’s still a lot of shadiness going on. In other words, we might be ‘staying clean living dirty.’

In our active addiction, we had to resort to some less-than-honest behaviors in order to survive, really. But, when you get clean and sober and you work a program of recovery, it’s time to hang up those old tricks. The thing is, bad habits die hard. And for people like us, old bad habits morph into new bad habits, which might look different but have the same underlying character defects driving them.

So, does shady behavior become normalized among recovering addicts?

I think the answer is ‘yes.’ Now, of course, as with most things, it’s important to be careful not to overly generalize. That’s to say, some people and circles of friends might be much better at living the principles of an honest program than others but, there’s a reason why the saying ‘progress not perfection’ is so popular; it’s impossible to be perfect at it.

For others, however, the same character defects that drove them in their addiction are still alive and thriving even though they are technically clean and sober.

For example, there are those who we would call ‘thirteenth steppers,’ preying on the newcomers both emotionally and sexually. Now, this might be quite obviously a shady behavior but, what about those who have a little bit of time and who begin dating someone freshly from a relapse? There’s a prevailing belief that, if they were in recovery before, it’s OK to do this. Even though they might have just finished treatment and only recently gotten to halfway, it’s justified because the person has had some time under their belt. I’m not judging; just wondering if this is healthy to do. I mean, even if the person had a lot of time, they did just come back from a relapse. They need some time to focus on themselves and their program; they’re starting over fresh, after all.

What about those who hook up with people they know are relapsing? I think their thought process is, “Well I’m not going over there to use, and s/he is DTF so, why not?” Believe me, I’m no prude. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with two consenting adults hooking up as long as they are on the same page. But, in this kind of situation, it still seems a bit shady and like someone is being taken advantage of.

I know people in recovery who still like to go to clubs, casinos, and strip joints. Again, no judgment. However, some of these people (staying gender-neutral here) will spend money on bottles, inviting girls others to join them at the table and plying them with alcohol. A little sketch, if you ask me. Now, I have friends who are “normies” and who can drink socially, which is totally fine with me. I find it odd, though, to spend money – and a lot of it – on alcohol when you’re a recovering alcoholic/addict. Personally, I wouldn’t want to contribute to the profit of the alcohol market.

Another shady behavior is the good ol’ fashioned hustle. Now, I know this is going to hurt some feelings but I also know there are a lot of people out there in recovery who find themselves in a compromising position with this. What I’m talking about is the typical phone room job. Granted, there are some legit phone call centers out there but, in my experience there are a lot more not-so-above-board call centers. And these places thrive on the experience that recovering addicts can bring to the table: the gift of gab. We are, generally-speaking quite good at manipulation and talking to folks. So, it’s understandable that people, especially in early recovery, find jobs at these kinds of places. Sometimes, it’s really their only option for work, due to having a background, for example. Also, a lot of money can be made and that’s quite attractive to people like us.

Working an honest program also means living honestly. It might work for a while but, often times, living out of alignment with your values and beliefs will cost you one way or another. If you are struggling to use the tools for a healthy, substance-free lifestyle, have relapsed or know someone who struggles with substance abuse or addiction, call us today at toll-free 1-800-951-6135. There are Addiction Specialists available around the clock to field your questions and share their experience

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