Putting Yourself First in Addiction Recovery
The recovery process aims to transcend mere cessation from consuming addictive substances. In other words, there is a higher purpose than just stopping an addict from drinking or using drugs.
Such goals aim to rehabilitate addicts mentally and physically to an extent where they will continue to live a fulfilling and meaningful lives without the need for addictive substances.
Besides being physically addictive, drug and alcohol usage also creates a willing bond between the abuser and the substance. Many drug and alcohol abusers are dependent on substances to heal emotional wounds, relieve severe pain and ignore the realities of their addictive behavior. Sobriety takes more than just time. Anyone who wants to stop using must be very serious about it and show commitment.
Why Self-Love in Recovery Is Critical
It’s necessary to focus on yourself during substance abuse recovery. Self-love may strike an addict or others as a useless slogan or bad parody. There is no doubt “being good to oneself” is misunderstood. Some people say self-love is narcissism. It isn’t. Instead of picturing yourself staring lovingly into a mirror muttering banal affirmations, have you ever thought about the level of self-confidence needed to assert yourself in life successfully? In a practical sense, you can start by meditating on the positive change and steps you must take to beat addiction.
Self-love is “believing in yourself,” having the self-esteem to identify your strengths and knowing how to fulfil the basic needs for a happy life. People presume self-love is putting yourself first at the expense of others. It’s more like you thinking about yourself in a healthy capacity to induce a healthy outlook.
It doesn’t matter how difficult you find it to fit self-love in your schedule every weekend. It can be a relaxing bath or a hike on a sunny day. Self-love teaches that if you don’t strive for your happiness, you might end up with more misery and self-destructive behavior. The phenomenon of being good to yourself understands that enjoying total abstinence from substance abuse, living a life without drug abuse isn’t a punishment for your mistakes but the only way forward after a long time spent “circling the drain” with drug and/or drink.
Self-love is huge in recovery. You need to see it from a point of self-interest, not guilt. If you think sobriety is a punishment, you will end up “picking up again” and return to the self-destructive addiction cycle.
Putting Your Recovery First
As soon as you have a perspective that allows you to see your sobriety as a healthy and effective path towards a better life, the next challenge will be shuffling your everyday responsibilities as an adult with your commitment to recovery.
It can be very challenging to meet basic needs – putting food on the table, find housing providing for others while still putting recovery first.
The most important thing is seeking help and learning to be compassionate and helping our loved ones in the same way we ask for and accept the assistance we’ve aim for in ourselves. If you’ve tried out visits to therapists and weekly meetings and your commitment to recovery still troubles you, consider seeking help from family and friends to keep you going in the first few months of recovery. It’s a long process. When you are ready, there will be significant hurdles like readjusting to “clean living,” stumbling with moments of temptation, relapses and other challenges and difficulties. Self-live is knowing you are on a journey but not alone.
Recovery and Partnerships
Two different things are trying to maintain a decent friendship because you’re still adjusting to recovery and struggling to keep a beneficial relationship while using recovery as an excuse. If you are married or have a long-term relationship with someone, the addiction can severely impact the relationship. Sobriety can go a long way to help the recovery process, but patience is needed from both you and your partner. If your partner is an addict too and impeding your recovery by using or sabotaging your efforts, you must consider “bailing” on the relationship.
In the early days, focusing on your recovery is not “selfish” but a key to growth. A genuine relationship should focus on looking out for what interests you both. There’s a fine line, however, between concentrating on figuring things out in early sobriety and completely neglecting your partner. Try to entangle both by working on your recovery together, attending meetings together or engaging in new hobbies and activities like any other couple would do.
Recovery and Dating
It is not a “rule” but a suggestion: early recovery is never an optimal time for dating. It’s not easy to nurture a relationship if you aren’t yet capable of self-love. People who have a problem with drugs and alcohol often have mood swings and other temperamental issues early on in their recovery period.
When you are not yet confident with your sobriety, put your love life on hold and use the energy to progress on your recovery journey. When you feel at peace with your past, you can “get out there” and find a partner.
Recovery as An Opportunity for Self-Improvement
Getting sober isn’t a punishment but a way to seek a healthy life after the self-sabotage that is addiction. Anyone who tells an addict sobriety is easy is a fool. It is not impossible though. Treating addiction is not a moral journey but a physical and psychological therapy of the scars left behind by substance abuse. Guilt and shame will surely surface and can be considered as a trade-off to mitigate if you genuinely want to grow.
See recovery from a perspective of self-improvement and self-love. It is an excellent opportunity to work on your mental health and actualize as the person you dreamed of by tackling your addiction with confidence and a series of “do-able” incremental steps.
If you feel you might have a problem with drugs and alcohol and would like to speak with an expert who can help, please click call First City Recovery Center today.
Dr. Vahid Osman, MD is a psychiatry specialist in Indianapolis, IN.
Dr. Osman completed a residency at Austin State Hospital. He has over 32 years of experience in Psychiatry & Behavioral Health. He is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.