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My friends and family are judging me for taking medication and using harm reduction. It's really hurtful, because I believe that this is the best path to recovery for me. What do I do?

Feeling Judged

Dear Feeling Judged,

This is a tricky topic. I know my sober friends love me, but damn, they could get NASTY when I told them I was going on medication for my substance use disorder. This was back in the early 2000s when AA sponsors were still firing sponsees for taking Prozac. Decades later, the well-meaning peanut gallery has a new target: harm reduction and medication. Different language, same story.

My first question is, why does this group think they have the power to pass judgment in the first place? Even my clinical care team doesn’t have control over my body, my choices, or my life. YOU are your own authority, my friend, and your body is your temple. Remember that your recipe for recovery success is yours alone to create.

Putting aside the audacity it takes to judge someone’s attempt to get well, let’s focus on how we can equip you with a response. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received came from my dear friend, Kate Harris. Kate is a resilience ninja; nothing seems to faze her. Whenever I get caught up in a heated discussion like this, I call her for a wisdom check. She says, “Remember what I always say: when things get heated, fight emotion with fact.”

Fortunately, in this case, the facts are on your side. There is ample evidence demonstrating the efficacy of harm reduction and medication. Our Workit Labs team has published outstanding clinical outcomes resulting from our harm reduction and medication program. Here are a few supporting publications that I keep on hand:

I recommend ending the discussion, holding up your hand, and quietly, firmly, without question, sending some links.

And if they want to continue talking? Take a step back, assess the situation, and if it feels unhelpful to you and your recovery, walk away. Protecting your recovery matters more than winning an argument. And remember, “No,” is a complete sentence. Easier said than done, I know. I’m still working on this very issue myself. We are all beautiful works in progress, bumping along, trying to be better. Easy does it.

Good luck, and don’t let the bastards grind you down.


Robin McIntosh

Co-Founder and Chairperson of the Board

Robin McIntosh is Workit Health’s Co-Founder and Chairperson of the Board of Directors. She is an experienced designer & entrepreneur. She has founded multiple companies, and has worked in health and consumer tech over the past ten years.

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