Should You Share Your Addiction History?

Should You Share Your Addiction History?

In Addiction by Tree House Recovery

It can sometimes be hard to decide whether to share your addiction history. While having a substance use disorder is nothing to be ashamed of–indeed, overcoming addiction is something to be proud of–the public perception of addiction is complicated. One poll from 2018 found that while a slim majority of Americans now see addiction as a disease that needs treatment, fewer than 20 percent said they would closely associate with someone with a substance use disorder. [] It’s understandable then that you might be wary of telling people about your addiction history. What you decide to share is up to you and treatment centers are bound by the same confidentiality as hospitals. However, the following are situations when sharing is a good idea.

You’re at the doctor.

You should always be honest with your doctor about your substance use history. There are valid reasons some people are wary about this, such as the fear that their doctor might not take their concerns seriously. However, on balance, honesty is better. For one thing, past substance use is a valuable clue when diagnosing a medical issue. If your substance use significantly increased your risk for hepatitis or heart failure, that could figure into a diagnosis. It’s also important for treatment. While doctors are typically far more cautious than they used to be about prescribing potentially addictive medications, opioids and benzodiazepines are still routinely prescribed in certain situations. If you have a history of addiction, your doctor absolutely needs to know and you may have to advocate for yourself to get treatment that minimizes your risk of addiction or relapse.

You’re starting a new relationship.

If you’re in a stable place where you can start dating again, you’ll have to decide when to tell your potential partner about your addiction history. Earlier is typically better. You want to wait long enough to decide whether the other person is someone you’re genuinely interested in but you don’t want to wait so long that the other person feels deceived. Your addiction history and your recovery needs will have an effect on your relationship and it might affect your children as well so anyone you’re serious about has a right to know. 

You have an opportunity to help someone else.

A third situation when sharing is a good idea is when you have an opportunity to help someone else with a substance use disorder. Addiction is a largely invisible problem, since most people prefer not to talk about it. Someone who is struggling with substance use might feel alone. Sharing your story might encourage that person to talk about his own struggles or possibly even seek help.


Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon uses cutting-edge techniques in individualized programs to help men achieve freedom from addiction. Taking a holistic, sustainable approach to the inner and outer effects of addiction ensures you or your loved one will emerge with the confidence and skills to manage your addiction independently. No one is beyond help- our Admissions Counselors are available 24/7 at (503) 850-2474