Addiction Recovery: Finding and Loving Your True Self
A person who has decided to quit substance abuse may think that it’s enough by itself to get back on track. It’s definitely a huge first step, but not the only one to take. Imagine yourself having lived in a dark room for months or years, and then stepping out again. Undoubtedly, you would feel lost and disoriented at first. Substance abuse and recovery is akin to that. Recovery does not solely depend on ceasing to use drugs or alcohol; it’s a daily process that involves changes to be made, and a conscious effort to acquire a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically.
Recovery does not equal sobriety, it goes beyond it. Sobriety means quitting the use of a substance, be it drugs, alcohol or other types of addiction. Recovery, on the other hand, means being able to live a normal life without using a substance, so it is very deep-rooted. Recovery from an addiction includes becoming the ‘true’ version of yourself by practicing self-care and personal development, and forming meaningful relationships with others. Finding yourself is paramount to recovery, and there are many different approaches that can help you through this journey of discovery.
It’s great to be motivated enough to charge into your new life, but recovering aggressively could actually backfire. The initial exhilaration of sobriety and having made such a courageous decision can make things seem easier than they are, because when the novelty of it all wears off, it’s time to do the difficult work. Take it step by step, or as successful recovering addicts say: one day at a time. For substance abusers, the term ‘recovering’ is never used in past participle form, because recovery is an ongoing process.
Throughout any kind of substance addiction, you lose a lot. Material things can be replaced, but there are things that are irreplaceable. Your self-identity, for example, would be one of the most important things you may lose. All through the addiction, your life becomes defined by an unrestrained relationship with drugs in many ways; hospitalizations, rehabilitations, relationships ruined, dreams shattered… Frightening experiences and days spent in bed, miserably recovering from the night before.
But somewhere within yourself, you still know that it’s not you, because most drugs are mind-altering. When you’re under the influence of mind-altering drugs, your perception of things and consequently your actions and decisions are affected. So how can you help yourself find and love your true self again?
Abuser self vs. real self
It cannot be stressed enough that the substance-abusing version of yourself is not your true self. That person under the influence is often aggressive, mean, and a compulsive liar in deep denial. That person might not necessarily think they are happy, but they believe they are happy as long as the substance is there. So, if you’re not defined by your addiction, then who are you? Though finding the real answer will depend on your own efforts, you never have to be alone. The internet is full of treatment centers from across the country to help you through this journey from the very beginning. You can start your own journey right now by running a simple search online for rehabilitation centers near you. For instance, if you’re looking for a serene space to work on your addiction that is close to New York, you can search for a Drug rehab in New Jersey dedicated to your individual recovery. Treatments in these specialized centers are not based on a one-size-fits-all approach; they’re customized specifically for each client to get a deeper understanding of the underlying causes of their addiction, and other relevant physical and mental conditions.
Discovering a purpose
Real recovery is about discovering your potential and your passions. Closing the door on drugs is one thing, and opening the door to new opportunities—or skills that have gotten rusty during addiction—is another. This realization of your true purpose may not come easily or quickly. The goal of recovery is not only about counting how many days you’ve stayed sober. It’s also about counting how many days you’ve paid attention to the people you love and care about, showed up to work bright-eyed and energetic, or told the truth to yourself and others. All these things, and many others, gradually add meaning to your life and get you one step closer to your purpose.
Getting to know yourself again
Recovering addicts can find themselves with a lot of time on their hands, especially during the early days of recovery. That’s not surprising, since spending hours using drugs, and trying to shake off the after effects are not the reality of their lives anymore. Professionals working in rehabilitation centers will show you how to fill this new void in your life; you can learn new things, take up new activities, and carry out even the most ordinary actions with a new perspective. Going fishing or camping, and even a simple walk in the park can become new hobbies if you look at them from a fresh point of view. Most people do have at least one passion in their lives, and as a recovering addict, you’re no different. The only difference is that your past addiction got in the way of your life and the personal interests you used to have. Take a lot of time to reflect on your passions, and think back on what used to make you happy before the drugs. You have more room in your life now for things to make it worth living.
Relationship with others
An issue that almost all addicts have in common is to have hurt, damaged or totally ruined an important relationship. This could be a relationship between family members, friends, romantic partners, coworkers or anyone else. Sobriety is your opportunity to patch things up, or to give it a try at the very least. Consider recovery and finding yourself as a big puzzle, and fixing your relationship with others is just another piece of it that will eventually complete the whole picture.
Learning to manage your feelings while sober
Substance abuse does a very good job of masking our true feelings. Thousands of addicts take up drugs because they don’t want to—or don’t know how to—manage their feelings in the first place. This means they never get to learn how to deal with emotions. During recovery, you begin to learn and understand that feelings are not enemies that you need to fight off by using substances. Anger, for example, is a very common emotion that everyone experiences from time to time, and it’s just an indication of distress that reminds us to make a change in order to correctly process and address that feeling.
A new freedom
When you start to practice self-discovery, be prepared to learn amazing things about yourself, and to witness how quickly you can reconnect with your true essence. Embracing and experiencing your genuine self will give you a sense of freedom you haven’t experienced since the addiction took control of everything in your life. Be kind to yourself, and forgive yourself. Get out into nature more often, connect with the right people, meditate, and pursue some quality me-time. Little by little, you will surely become a person that you love, care about and admire.