Camden can be a tough town. Crack cocaine and heroin use are big problems; the streets are violent; and homelessness is rampant. One man wanted to make a positive impact on the city and dedicated years of his life to being a program coordinator at a local homeless shelter. Part of his job was to help those who needed it to put their issues with drug and alcohol in the past. Or so it seemed.
This month, the man, known by some as “Killer Clown,” pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute and conspiracy, confessing to overseeing a crack cocaine distribution ring in Camden over a 15-month period.
It was a very upsetting announcement to many who had felt he was in their corner, rooting for them to get better and overcome addiction. To find that he was behind a drug ring, overseeing guys who stood outside of rundown houses on a street in Camden selling crack cocaine to the very people he was supposedly trying to help, was more than disheartening.
Though it is unsettling to hear that someone who purported to help people living with addiction was actually benefitting from and exploiting their plight, this is not an isolated case. Coming across people who are dishonest is not uncommon, but in recovery, it can be a trigger for relapse.
Though you cannot completely avoid encountering people who are not worthy of your trust, you can mitigate the harm done and the threat to your recovery. Here’s what you need to know:
If you know that someone is not trustworthy, do not spend time with them. It sounds straightforward, but unfortunately, it is not always easy to distance yourself from someone who is dishonest. It could be that someone you are friends with in recovery is still engaging in criminal acts or that someone at home is emotionally manipulative and uses dishonest behavior to get what they want. Both of these situations and a range of others are toxic and do not promote emotionally healthy living, which is a necessity for your continued sobriety.
Trust your instincts. As you meet new people, you will inevitably come across people who are not living honestly even if you meet them in recovery. If you feel that something isn’t quite right, trust yourself and give yourself space from them.
Stay focused on your own recovery. It can be tempting to want to help others who are struggling with honesty, especially if they are in recovery. It’s best to stay focused on your own journey. Being judgmental or gossiping about whether or not they are being honest in their recovery will not help them, and it won’t help you to stay sober.
Talk to an objective person. If you cannot extricate yourself from someone who is dishonest or you are blindsided by someone close to you, seek out the guidance and advice of someone who is distant from the situation. A therapist, for example, can help you to sift through what is true and what isn’t, and make a plan to manage the situation while also helping you to manage the emotions that arise.
Increase your coping skills. Learning how to lower stress, make healthy choices, and prioritize your recovery not only helps you to avoid relapse but also helps you to manage emotional upset of any kind. The more you incorporate healthy living into your daily schedule, the more capable you will be of managing it when you are hurt or feel uncomfortable by someone’s dishonesty.
You cannot control the choices that others make, and, in many cases, you cannot control your initial response to finding out that someone you trusted was not being genuine with you. What you can control is how you react and what you do going forward to protect yourself and your recovery, and to process what has happened.
If you have been hurt by someone’s dishonesty in recovery
Do not allow it to change your commitment to your sobriety. Instead, actively engage with your recovery, talk to people who can support you, and maintain your commitment to your own honest and healthy lifestyle.