Many people who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction do not seek help until the point that the addiction has come to permeate every aspect of life. It begins to affect your marriage, your relationship with your children, your job, and your health. The substance abuse can become such a major part of your life, that you may find that you don’t even know who you are, anymore. Your journey of recovery, in this case, will be twofold. You will be learning to cease the addictive behavior, and you will be learning to develop meaning in your sober experiences.
You Are Not Your Addiction
As you progress in your recovery, it is important to make a distinction between yourself and the behaviors that you have engaged in. Many professionals have decidedly moved away from the concept of referring to someone as an addict or an alcoholic. They have found that identifying someone by such a negative label is counterproductive to providing an environment for change. You will similarly benefit from considering yourself as a person who formerly relied on substances for survival, and not thinking of yourself as an addict. You are so much more than what that label implies.
While in addiction, many people are inadvertently avoiding who they are. Being under the constant influence of a substance means that little time is given to introspection or consideration of the meaning of life. Recovery provides the window of opportunity for you to spend some quality time with yourself. You may be learning, for the first time, what it is that makes you tick, or you may go about the task of rediscovering aspects of yourself that you left behind. As a famous philosophy saying goes, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” It is only through getting to know our true selves that life becomes full of meaning.
Increase Your Faith
We are living in a time and culture where expressions of faith are widely varied. What each of them have in common is that they provide the faithful with a sense of meaning. Once your brain no longer has the effects of an addictive substance controlling it, you will need to provide it with a new compass. Exploring what you believe about the nature of the universe and our place as humans within it can become a healthy replacement for your formerly misguided efforts. Finding your place in the bigger scheme of things will help you to stay focused when inevitable temptation and frustrations threaten to block your path forward.
Keep Your Mind Open
One of the biggest deterrents to progress is rigid thinking. We can become stuck in our old ways of seeing the world, even when those perspectives don’t produce good results. The nature of addiction illustrates this concept, perfectly. While addicted, a person will continue to think the same things, over and over, even though such train of thinking consistently leads to a dead end. Take some time to consider some of the dysfunctional thought patterns and beliefs that you have been applying to your life over the years, and use this recovery space to be honest with yourself about whether they are working out as you hoped. It may be time to give some ideas up, and to allow space for new ones.
A thing that is certain about life is that there will always be uncertainty. The hallmark of successful people is not how much wealth they have acquired, or how many people they know. The true prize goes to those who have learned how to be resilient. Practicing resilience means that you know how to roll with the punches, and how to not let circumstances throw you too far off course. A resilient person draws on the strength inside that has been gained from years of overcoming hardship, and uses that strength to get back up when the going gets tough. As the old boxing adage goes, you may be down, but you are not out.
Build Healthy Relationships
Once you have reached a point of being proud of who you are, it is time to expand your horizons through allowing others to get to know the real you. Building a social network during recovery means that you are learning how to surround yourself with people who bring value into your life. These people will appreciate you for who you are, and will be genuinely invested in your continued success. The give-and-take of these healthy relationships can provide you with accountability, inspiration, and improved wellbeing, overall. People who have formed healthy connections with others have been shown to live longer, and healthier, lives.
Follow Your Dreams
Many of us can remember what we said we wanted to be when we grew up. It is interesting to compare that childlike dream to where we actually find ourselves as adults. It is more interesting to learn that we are still capable of having that hopeful attitude toward life, even after years of disappointment. Recovery means more than just ceasing the drug or alcohol use. It refers to getting back all of the pieces of your life that the addiction has stolen. Use this time to discover what your unique gifts, skills, interests, and talents consist of. Then, find a way to best utilize them for your healthy advantage.
Give Back to Your Community
It is extremely hard to give to others when we don’t have enough energy for ourselves. One of the natural outcomes of getting our own lives on the right track is that we will find that we simultaneously gain the energy necessary for bringing light into the lives of others. When we are happy and healthy, we tend to want others to experience the same. This life perspective tends to be a far cry from the self-absorption of addiction, and may be the equal-and-opposite life direction which you were always meant to achieve. The old you was a slave to addiction. The new you becomes a willing servant to others.