Recovery should, first and foremost, be a time for change. When recovering from a drug addiction, the goal of the recovery process is to do more than just stop someone from using drugs. It is to help people rehabilitate mentally and physically to the point where they can continue living a fulfilling and meaningful life without the need for drugs.
More than just physically addictive, drug use also creates an emotional bond between the user and the drug. Many addicts rely on drugs to heal emotional wounds, cope with serious pain, and ignore the realities of their addictive behavior. Cutting away from that takes more than just time – it takes a serious approach towards mental health and a healthier lifestyle, and the incentive to stop using. More than a commitment to sobriety, addiction recovery is about making it easier to be sober. And that means living a life truly worth living.
The Importance of Self Love in Recovery
To understand why it’s okay (and even necessary) to focus on yourself during drug recovery, we need to dig into the role that self-love plays in recovery and how coming to terms with yourself is a necessary step when trying to beat an addiction. However, self-love is sadly often misunderstood. Self-love has nothing to do with narcissism. Rather than picturing a guy staring lovingly into a mirror, think about the level of self-confidence needed to successfully assert yourself in life. Think about how any positive change requires the belief that said change is possible to begin with.
Self-love is just believing in yourself, having the self-esteem to recognize your strengths, and recognizing the importance of fulfilling your own basic needs for wellbeing and happiness. Self-love isn’t putting yourself first at the expense of others, but it’s thinking about yourself in a capacity that is healthy and fosters a healthy outlook.
Self-love might be taking the time every weekend to make yourself a relaxing bath or making the time to exercise no matter how hard it seems to be to fit it into your schedule. Self-love is realizing that if you don’t work for your own happiness, you’re going to be the creator of your own misery. Self-love is knowing that you deserve to enjoy sober living, and that going sober isn’t a punishment for your mistakes, but the only way forward after a long time spent addicted to drugs.
More concretely put, self-love plays a significant role in recovery because to take staying sober earnestly, you need to approach it from a perspective of self-interest rather than a perspective of guilt. If sobriety is a punishment, it can never last.
Put Your Recovery First
Once you have come to terms with a point of view that allows you to see your sobriety as a healthy and effective path forward towards a better life, the next challenge will be to juggle your everyday responsibilities as an adult with your responsibility to recovery. Putting recovery first when you potentially have to work to put food on the table, keep a roof over your head, and even provide for others, can be very difficult.
The key is to ask for help. We all need to learn to be compassionate and help those we love, just as much as we need to learn to ask for and accept help when we need it. If you are having trouble keeping up with your commitments to recovery, including visits to the therapist and weekly meetings, then consider enlisting the help of friends and family to keep you afloat in the first few months of recovery. It’s a long process and coming to terms with your new life takes time spent readjusting and responding to unique challenges and difficulties. There may even be stumbling along the way, including moments of temptation and relapse. Understand that while it’s your journey, you don’t have to be in this alone.
Recovery and Partnerships
There’s a fine line between struggling to maintain a healthy partnership because you’re still adjusting to recovery and struggling to maintain a healthy partnership while using recovery as an excuse. If you are married or have a long-term partner, the addiction can take a serious toll on the two of you. Deciding to go sober and working on said sobriety can go a long way to help the healing process, but patience is needed from both parties. If your partner was an enabler all along or continues to use drugs while you are going through the effort of quitting, it’s important to seriously consider leaving for your own good.
Otherwise, focusing on your own recovery in the early days is not selfish, but necessary. Do not derail your recovery to serve your partner’s whims. Part of being in a respecting and loving relationship means looking out for each other’s interests. Of course, there’s a significant difference between focusing on figuring things out in early sobriety and completely neglecting your partner. Consider intertwining the two by working on your recovery together, going to meetings together or engaging in new hobbies and activities as a pair.
Recovery and Dating
It’s a rule that is sometimes spoken and sometimes unspoken, but early recovery is not a good time for dating. It’s very difficult to maintain or nurture a relationship if you aren’t yet capable of self-love, and many addicts struggle with mood swings and other temperamental issues early on in their road of recovery.
Until you feel like you are at peace with your past and confident in your sober life, consider putting your love life on hold and pouring that energy towards improving yourself.
Recovery as An Opportunity for Self-Improvement
It cannot be stressed enough that going sober after a time spent addicted is not a form of punishment. Sobriety is not a journey through hell, and there is no need to atone for anything. Addiction treatment is not a moral journey, but a physical and psychological treatment of the scars left behind by drug overuse. Dealing with the guilt and shame of addiction in recovery is crucial to truly overcoming the experience.
See recovery as an opportunity for self-improvement, in that sense. This is your chance to work on yourself and be the person you want to be, by tackling your addiction head-on and making true changes.