One of the biggest struggles a former addict faces during their addiction recovery isn’t temptation, but stigma. The feeling of addiction being something shameful, or a sign of deep personal failure, can be so overwhelming that it becomes hard to seek treatment, making the road to recovery long, lonely and extremely difficult. Learning to overcome the shame of addiction is essential to a healthy and lasting recovery, so here are three things to remember if the embarrassment of addiction is making it hard for you or a loved one to seek help:

1. Addiction is a physical weakness, not a personal one

There is a lot that science still doesn’t know about addiction, but what it does know is this: suffering from an addiction isn’t a sign of weakness or of being a bad person. Some people are genetically predisposed towards addiction, while others find themselves at risk when severe stress leads to changes in the brain’s chemistry. Having an addiction is no more shameful than having diabetes; but, just like diabetes, an addiction needs to be carefully managed with proper treatment and support so that it doesn’t ruin your life.

2. Self care isn’t selfish

It isn’t selfish when someone with a nut allergy declines a handful of Trail Mix, and it isn’t selfish when someone in addiction recovery stays away from the source of their addiction. As hard as it might be for old friends to understand why you don’t even want to be around alcohol, saying no to the substances and environments that trigger your addiction doesn’t make you a party pooper or a bad friend. By putting your health and sober living first, you’re much more likely to be strong when your friends and family need you for the important things: weddings, births, and support through difficult times.

3. Sober living is still fun living

Alcohol can help someone without an addiction have fun if they’re careful, but alcohol itself isn’t a source of fun. Living sober or being in a sober home doesn’t deprive you of anything that can enrich your life; friendships, exercise, good food and exciting adventures are still sources of enjoyment and fulfillment if you take away drugs and alcohol. There is no shame at all in wanting to enjoy what life has to offer with a clear mind and healthy body, and that’s exactly what sober living helps you to do.