Addicted: The Elephant Effect

addicted-holly Conklin

Holly Conklin explains what is the Elephant Effect.

Have you ever been in a crowd, or a room filled with people and felt as though you didn’t fit in somehow? Differing viewpoints can create that effect. Not everyone will agree on every little thing every single time, that’s for certain but learning how “not to judge” is something we could all work on.  It’s no easy task. I know this because I have been the “Elephant in the Room” on more occasions than I can count.  Either addicted or sober, to feel this way can be totally defeating on so many levels. Addicted people try to hide their addictions. Being the addicted person in a room full of sober family members, friends or acquaintances creates the “elephant” effect. It’s like you’re standing there, hoping no one notices you or notices that you are addicted but everyone does. And because your addiction is larger than life you become the elephant in the room that everyone sees but no one talks about, unless it’s behind your back.

I have been many places, with other professionals and with others suffering from the disease of addiction, in recovery, out of recovery, considered recovered (by themselves and potentially others) and so on. I have encountered many types of treatment modalities as well, 12 Step, SMART Recovery, Mindfulness, Native American 12 Step, Trauma Therapy, Alternative Medications type treatment and other non-traditional types of treatment and therapies. Even though more and more modalities are gaining popularity, the 12 Step modality is still the most popular type of treatment in the United States. I am of the mindset that, whatever works, works for the addicted individual and so long as something works, so be it.  I never judge a person’s sobriety because I also know it’s not easy getting there. During my own struggle as an addicted person I realized that there were certain things in recovery that might or might not make sense to me and that I would have to figure out what would work and what wouldn’t work but for me personally. I found that.  It was non-traditional and even a little controversial. I didn’t care, I just wanted to be clean and have a life, now I have both.

Don’t Judge someone suffering from Addiction.

So, the next time you see the “elephant in the room”, don’t judge and don’t interpret what it took them to end up there. If they are still addicted, reach out to help and don’t ignore them. If they are sober and their choice of sobriety doesn’t jive with yours, maybe just listen to what they have to say about what they got out of their chosen program that did get them sober, you might learn something. This is a tough industry and the losses can add up quickly, try not to take away from another person’s experience.  Let’s all be better at living with an open mind and an open heart. And if you need to call me, I won’t judge you, I’ll help you find what works for you.