Content reviewed by Nicholas G. Glines, Executive Director at New Hope Ranch
When under the weight of addiction, you likely have a skewed perception of who you are. Substances have a way of taking over and influencing your thoughts and behaviors. Once you find help, clarity returns.
Initial treatment will remove substances from your body, and your journey to recovery will require you to discover who you truly are. While you will need to put in the work, understand that recovery is an opportunity to find your identity and let this identity lead you through life.
Defining Identity After Addiction Recovery Treatment
Identity takes shape from experiences, memories and beliefs. It is also influenced by the people in your social circle. Therefore, if you continue to surround yourself with others who use substances, your behaviors and self-perception will have a negative influence. Likewise, when you surround yourself with supportive people, your behaviors and self-perception will have a positive influence.
Identity also involves variables that relate to how you look, what you like, your culture and your overall perspective on the world. Such facets shape who you are and help you form a cohesive identity. Ultimately, identity is about growth; therefore, your identity will inevitably evolve as you grow in recovery.
Finding Identity in Sobriety
Following treatment, you might find yourself perplexed over what to do next. Finding your sense of identity in recovery can feel uncomfortable because you and the people around you may have an idea of who you are as a person. It can be troubling if you, your friends and your family define who you are based on your past substance use.
Understand that you are no longer the person you were when using substances. Remember, part of the recovery process takes acknowledging difficult emotions and confronting the past to help you realize how far you have come.
Take Time to Reflect
When working through difficult emotions, remember that processing and understanding them will take time. Reflection does not mean focusing on past mistakes or behaviors but taking time to reflect on what is important to you now. You might reconnect with things you thought were important before your addiction took hold.
You can start by looking at your values such as family, career, self-development or spirituality. What has been consistently important? Taking 10 to 30 minutes daily to reflect can open you up to recognizing the values that speak to you.
Pursue Activities You Enjoy
After years of substance use, you may not know what you like. Even everyday responsibilities such as work, parenting and other tasks can cause you to neglect activities you enjoy. However, you need healthy ways to unwind and enjoy life. If you struggle to think of ideas, try thinking about what hobbies you enjoyed in the past. Have you ever wanted to try something new? You may pursue options like:
- Playing music
The goal is to let your adventurous side explore different activities throughout the day. Doing so will enrich your life and shape your identity. Some activities you participate in could lead to career opportunities. For example, if you enjoy working at a pet shelter, you might make it a goal to find a career that deals with helping animals.
Develop Healthier Relationships After Treatment
Learning to socialize can be one of the more challenging aspects of recovery. It first takes building a healthy relationship with yourself. Next, you will want to connect with friends, family and peers that support your sobriety. Supportive friends, family and peers reinforce your sobriety and who you are striving to become.
If you have trouble finding the right friends, look to community opportunities such as 12-Step programs, volunteer work or local classes. Being proactive about taking small steps to strengthen your support network and share your interests with others will help you achieve the overall goal you’re working toward.
Your New Identity is Something You Gain in Recovery
Recovery is a fresh start that offers so many opportunities to pursue. Reclaiming your identity is no exception. It may become challenging at times, but always redirect your thoughts back to what you are gaining in recovery. It is the key to finding your identity following treatment.
Focusing on the idea that you lost your identity rather than what you have gained will bring about more challenges. Try to counter the negative by thinking about the gains. Tools to help you focus your recovery compass include:
- Keeping a gratitude journal
- Mindfulness meditation
- Positive affirmations
- Sharing experiences with peers
The process of establishing your identity in recovery will not happen overnight or even over the course of a month or maybe even a year. However, recovery offers you the opportunity to examine the areas of life that are important and rewarding to you.
If you are looking for support in addiction recovery, New Hope Ranch can help. Our 49-acre ranch in Manor, Texas, offers the landscape and resources you need to overcome addiction and develop the life skills necessary for lasting recovery. To learn more about our programs and community presence, reach out to New Hope Ranch today by calling us at (737) 600-8565.