Sometimes you just need to get it all out. Sharing your experience and the emotions attached to it is not only scientifically proven to be healing, it’s subjectively proven – you know it works because you feel better once you’ve let it go.
This is a simplified way of describing SobrietyNavigator.com, an online forum for anyone who wants to talk about real life with addictions – whether from a personal struggle with drugs or alcohol, or a family member’s journey, or even what really happens in treatment professionals’ offices. It’s raw and real and totally safe and non-judgmental.
That last part is key for founder Cynthia Peterson, who says she started her research for this site at age two. Domestic violence and child neglect due to a family history of substance abuse laid the foundation for Peterson’s childhood and, later in life, for her own struggles with addiction.
“I have 33 years of sobriety, so I know from my own experience that fear of the unknown creates a natural resistance to change. Entering treatment, going to a 12-step program, or initiating an intervention can seem overwhelming when you do not know what to expect. And then there are the after-treatment, late-night fears that continue to creep in, with no one to talk to at 2 a.m.” Peterson says.
“People need to communicate with others and learn from their experiences. It must happen in a safe, anonymous environment. This sharing is a crucial aspect of change and transformation. They already know there is a problem. The question is, what to do with it? So we say, ‘talk it out, don’t act it out.’”
Peterson says that she created something she would have loved to look at before and after she stopped drinking. The aha moment for her site came when she realized it took her three years to begin treatment after she realized she had a problem. Why did it take three whole years, she wondered? Then it hit her: “I had been taught to be ashamed of who I am from a young age.”
Eliminating shame and embracing every feeling and struggle is now a key mission for Sobriety Navigator. It’s a place, Peterson says, to talk about anything and not worry about it being used against you. Here you can read true (confidential) stories and then share your own – perhaps even the details you don’t share with your best friend.
“This is the only site of its sort out there,” says Peterson. While support meetings usually share highlights (or low-lights), Sobriety Navigator tends to draw out more in-depth conversations.
The ability to do so anonymously frees those who share and acts as a catharsis ... much like journaling, says Peterson: “You give voice to your experience and then step away from that.”
Another of Peterson’s goals through the vehicle of Sobriety Navigator is de-stigmatizing addiction and the process of recovery. She strongly encourages therapists to join and share an overview of their experience to help break down fears and stigmas surrounding treatment.
“I’m the staunchest advocate of therapists,” Peterson states. “I credit them with my emotional sobriety.”
With both public and member levels on the site, Sobriety Navigator provides for every level of engagement. To learn more about these components, and to enter the world of Sobriety Navigator, visit www.SobrietyNavigator.com.