When you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you can lose many things including friends, money, cars, houses, or even family. These are tangible losses that are often spoken about as the consequences of addiction.
What about other, less tangible losses, such as self-respect, self-esteem, a sense of well-being, and the ability to feel happy?
Another common casualty of addiction is the loss of identity. Addicts often report being unable to connect with a sense of identity free of their addiction. This can represent a real barrier to seeking treatment. “I don’t know who I am without booze” is a common response from an alcoholic who might be resisting treatment.
Part of recovery is focused on ways to discover your identity as a sober individual, both reconnecting with and learning new things about your own personality. In rehab, you will undergo a variety of experiences that can help you tap back into your own identity and come out with a strong sense of self, which is incredibly important to maintaining long-term recovery.
Reconnect With Core Values
This is a crucial step in re-establishing who you are as an individual. Core values give meaning and direction to your life, expressing who you are and what you firmly believe to be true and good.
The first task is identifying what your core values are. Try writing down what you value in life—love, honesty, integrity, empathy—and what those values will look like in your new, sober lifestyle. Come up with practical steps that you can take to start living your value system every day.
Bring Back Joy
Years of substance abuse can rob you of your ability to feel real joy or any sense of fun. In recovery, you can return to old hobbies that brought you happiness before addiction took over. Maybe you used to love painting, or dancing, or reading a good novel. Taking up those activities once again can help you connect the dots between your identity before substance abuse and the new identity you are building in recovery.
Because you are a different person than you were before your addiction, this ‘new you’ will most likely discover other things that bring joy and fulfillment. Rehab is a perfect place to try new things; you could find yourself saying things like “I never knew I loved horseback riding!”
Rebuild Your Personality
The traits that make you who you are have been buried under the weight of addiction for a long time, and it will take time and effort to dig them back out. Recovery will help you learn once again how to be yourself without drugs and alcohol fuelling and distorting your personality. Reinstate your dominant traits and really let them shine; whether it is thoughtfulness, curiosity, spirituality or a sense of humor, your treatment program will give you the tools and the confidence to bring your personality back into the world.
Learn That Your Identity is Emotion-Based
In essence, your identity springs from how you feel in the world, not just your actions or your responsibilities. You might be a mother, but ‘mother’ is not the entirety of who you are. It is certainly a contributing factor, but recovery will help you understand that your identity is really based on your emotional well-being.
Striking the right balance between living your core values, finding ways to bring yourself joy, and expressing your true personality will take practice, sometimes years of work, but it is an integral part of a successful long-term recovery plan.
If you or a loved one are seeking addiction treatment in Washington State, Recovery Village Ridgefield is here to help you start the journey toward sobriety. Our evidence-based treatment plans are tailored to suit your individual needs and take a holistic approach to recovery that addresses mind, body, and soul. Contact us to start a conversation with one of our professional addiction specialists about how we can help you get on the path to recovery today.