If you’re someone who is not used to experiencing love, then you might think the idea of love as a requirement for recovery is odd. But think about it. Just getting help for yourself when you hit rock bottom is love. Calling for help when you wanted to quit drinking is love. Attending meetings on a regular basis is love, and starting to build a new life for yourself is love. Love is really all the things you’re doing to keep yourself well. And you likely started doing those things because what you were doing wasn’t working.
Addiction can wreak havoc on a person’s self esteem. It undermines a person’s ability to love, especially themselves. In fact, addiction is a form of self-harm. To get help, to live at a sober living home, find new sober friends – these are all forms of self-love. For those who have struggled with an addiction, it’s easy to have negative thoughts about your self-image, body, intellect, or any other part of your life, especially in a culture that can be stigmatizing towards those who don’t have an ideal life. At the same time, when you have a low self esteem, your negative feelings about yourself can multiply. Your belief in yourself can worsen. And there can be a destructive and negative cycle with self-esteem and addiction.
Sober living not only requires self-love but it also asks that you love others. When you get sober, you’re not just sober for yourself, but for the sake of others too. Addiction frequently ruins relationships. It can slowly eat away at the trust between two people, until eventually a friend or loved one doesn’t want to spend time with you anymore. However, with sober living, you begin to want those friendships and family members back in your life. You want to amend what happened in the past. You might even notice that when cravings arise you think of your children, spouse, coworkers, and family. You decide not to use because you love them. You decide not to give into the craving because you love your life with them in it.
In a way, sober living also requires love for the world. Whereas when you were addicted, you thought the world was an awful place, with sober living, you might actually enjoy your life. And when you begin to find happiness in sobriety, you might even help others find sobriety too. You want to make the world a better place. You want to give back for all the help and support you received while in early recovery. Although love for the world isn’t required for sober living (unlike self love), it can bring meaning and purpose to your life. Trying to make the world a better place in your own way can make life feel even more fulfilling.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, think about the presence of love. If you want to get sober, self-love will be the foundation for recovery.
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