There’s more to addiction recovery than just to stop using alcohol, drugs, and other substances. Sure, that’s part of it, the important first step, but it’s just the beginning.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), recovery is “process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”
That means personal development: both learning the new coping mechanisms that can replace the use of your personal addiction, and replacing and redirecting the thought patterns that led to your reliance on substances in the first place.
It is not your fault that you suffered from addiction. It doesn’t mean you are weak or of low moral character. The signs of addiction are not a scarlet letter. Addiction is partly biological and partly psychological.
You deserve to experience personal development, to fully live with a healthy mindset, and develop your goals. It will support your addiction recovery and usher in a positive chapter of your life.
Finding clarity is the first step towards deciding who you’d like to be in this new phase of life.
Clarity in addiction recovery usually means the epiphany that sent you to recovery, but it also means to view your life clearly, to deal with life’s problems rather than to numb them.
Recovery can feel intimidating if you have grown accustomed to your previous way of facing life’s little obstacles and are unsure of where to go from here. Getting clear on the life you’d like to pursue can motivate you to continue recovery and begin finding happiness.
For example, you may decide to pursue creative habits—writing, drawing, playing a musical instrument—or old hobbies you loved before addiction diverted you. Anything that helps you express your pain rather than burying it, like therapy and journaling in times of stress, is a healthy coping mechanism.
Finding closure with your past addiction is essential towards truly moving forward.
If you can come to terms with the past behavior that led to your struggle, you are that much closer to moving past it. This may require help from your therapist, vulnerability, and patience.
Closure can include connecting with people you’ve hurt or who have hurt you to repent and make amends or to forgive. It’s coming to terms with the emotions that led to your pain and caused you to develop unhealthy coping skills.
This level of personal development is difficult but always worth it if it helps you find peace in recovery.
Growth is the most important element of personal development in terms of your future. It can help prevent a return to the destructive substance use and behavior that led you to rehab in the first place.
One of the damaging effects of addiction is the belief that you will never be able to return to your pre-addiction life. Fortunately, you can with time if you are committed to growth at your own pace.
Growth can come from many sources: from reading a poem about hope, setting a goal to begin creating a healthy routine, or more long-term five or 10-year goals to help you make important decisions.
Growth can mean giving back and filling your time with volunteer or charity work. Finding purpose and planning a future of growth is essential to success in long-term recovery.
If you have been struggling to find motivation or joy in recovery, explore different forms of personal development. The options are endless if you are open to trying new things. Take the time to learn about yourself and find joy,
Remember that your journey of recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. It is meant to build over time as you learn how to create your new fulfilling lifestyle.