The journey of self-discovery is an important part of the addiction recovery process. Giving up an addiction often includes changing certain parts of your lifestyle and the people you spend time with. Because of this, many people struggling with addiction feel like substance abuse is part of their identity. If you feel this way, remember you’re not alone.
There are many strategies you can use to rediscover your substance-free identity. It’s important to find ways in recovery to participate in the things that bring you joy and make you feel like yourself.
Many people feel their sense of identity comes from their passions. If your lifestyle has shifted since giving up an addiction, developing your passions is a great way to feel like yourself without turning to substance abuse.
If you know music, art, hiking, or any other activity is your passion, schedule time for these things every week, or even every day. Try joining groups or classes that focus on your passion so you connect with others who are similar to you. You can also set goals to improve at the thing you love. Accomplishing a goal you’re passionate about can be a very rewarding experience.
If you’re not yet sure which activities you’re passionate about, spend some time exploring. Many passions have to be developed. Think about the types of experiences that make you feel most fulfilled. Whether you prefer activities that are active, social, creative, or charitable, there is an activity that fits everyone’s needs. Try out a couple of different activities that fit your interests until you find the one that feels like a good fit for you.
Addiction recovery is a perfect time to build a new relationship with your body and health. Aim to make nutritious choices in your diet that make your body feel its best. Find foods that you enjoy and that make you feel strong and healthy. When your body feels good, you’ll feel like you’re most able to truly be yourself without feeling hindered by low energy and a lack of strength.
To eat more delicious and healthy foods, try replacing some sugary treats with fruits or fruit smoothies into your diet. Dark chocolate with a low sugar content is also a great way to enjoy a treat without hurting your body.
Try out new recipes that include lots of whole grains and vegetables. If you don’t love eating vegetables, find a different way to prepare or season them. Often, getting creative can help you find ways to enjoy nutritious foods.
In addition to nutrition, physical exercise is important for helping you feel like your best and most authentic self. Everyone’s preferred activities will be different. Some people enjoy lifting heavy weights at the gym and others love running long distances.
Many people prefer lower intensity exercises, though. If you don’t love a hardcore, sweaty workout, going for a daily walk is a perfect way to incorporate more movement into your day. Try listening to music or an audiobook or inviting a friend to join you for the walk to make it more fun. The most important thing is to find ways to get more exercise and eat more nutritiously that help you feel like you’re able to be your best self.
Healthy relationships are one of the most important aspects of a healthy life. In fact, researchers have found that social isolation makes self-regulation more difficult. Supportive and loving relationships can even improve bodily health more quickly, which can help you rebuild your health after an addiction. That’s why it’s important for those in addiction recovery to focus on building healthy relationships with the people who are most important to them.
In the midst of a substance abuse disorder, many people form connections with people who are a negative influence and neglect relationships with friends and family. During addiction recovery, reach out to the important people in your life to reconnect.
When relationships have been neglected, some people may be hesitant to rebuild the connection. Don’t get discouraged if it takes time to rebuild these relationships. Let your friends and family know you’d like to be there for them, and over time, your relationship will naturally strengthen.
One of the best ways to rebuild relationships is to offer acts of service. Show your willingness to help your loved ones when they need it. You can help with a move or a house painting project. You could drop off some food when your friend or family member has a tough day. Connecting through service is a reliable way to strengthen a relationship.
To feel like your most authentic self, it’s important to take time for self-care. Everyone needs recharge time. It’s difficult to keep up with the relationships you care about, develop your passions, and take care of your body when you’re feeling worn out with low energy.
Give yourself the time you need to relax and reflect. This could include 15 minutes of journaling, reading, meditating, or taking a bath each night before bed. Sometimes self-care practices can be longer. Book a massage or plan a weekend campout. Any activity that helps you build energy so you can get back to feeling like yourself can be good to include in your self-care routine.
Beliefs and values are a major part of identity for many people. Living your values by supporting causes you care about is a great way to meet other people with similar values while also feeling a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Promoting a cause that matters to you can also help you feel like you’re living authentically.
Many people in addiction recovery enjoy working with addiction prevention and awareness organizations because the cause resonates with them. But many others find other causes that resonate with them. Helping with a fundraiser for cancer research or volunteering at a homeless shelter can be a way for you to support your community. Find the issues you believe in, and look for organizations working on those issues.
The most important part of being yourself after addiction is staying healthy and avoiding relapse. Substance abuse disorders make it difficult for people to live authentically because the addiction can control many aspects of their lives. If you need support in avoiding relapse, don’t hesitate to reach out to a medical professional to get help and stay on track with your goals.
If you or a loved one are struggling with a mental illness, you have many options for treatment. Reach out to a healthcare professional to see what types of treatment could help. Even if any of the common barriers to treatment apply to you, a mental healthcare professional may know about more affordable, more accessible, more convenient, or more inclusive options for you.