Do you know who you are without drugs or alcohol? You may think that you do, but most people who struggle with substance abuse numb their feelings and completely lose touch with themselves over the course of their addiction. If you no longer had the evening cocktail or the group of people you hang around with while getting drunk or high, what would you have? You may barely remember what your hobbies or interests were before your addiction set in, and you may not know how to fill your time without alcohol or drugs. The good news is that going to rehab will help you find yourself. When you make a decision to enter treatment, you understand that you will have to give up alcohol and any other substances that you have come to depend on for altering your mood or helping you to relax. You may not realize the journey that is about to begin as you become accustomed to life without dependence on chemicals and start to find yourself.
First Step: Detox
Recovery begins with breaking the cycle of dependence. When you are physically or psychologically dependent on a substance, there is no hope of finding yourself until you overcome that dependence. As long as you are habitually turning to drugs or alcohol to escape from reality, you have lost yourself. The only way to turn it around is to let go of chemical dependence. It’s not that easy to simply quit, and it may even be dangerous. When you go to a rehabilitation facility, your journey begins with detox. All mind-altering substances have to be removed from your body and mind. Detoxification is a process that needs to happen under medical supervision. Addiction professionals will help you manage the intense symptoms of withdrawal and ensure your safety as you go through this process. Once the chemicals are out of your system, you are ready to move on to the next phase of recovery
Building a Support Network
It would be nice if once you went through the detoxification phase you were cured. But it’s not quite that simple. The compulsion that made you turn to alcohol or drugs in the first place is likely to return, and you will need to learn what to do and how to handle those feelings. In rehab, you will start to learn that recovery depends on the strength of the group, and that your best resource for continued sobriety is a support network. The process of finding others you can rely on is imperative for your continued journey to find yourself and to recover from addiction. In Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, one of the key parts of recovery is choosing a sponsor, an individual who will be there to listen to whatever you need to talk about and help guide you in recovery. Besides a sponsor, the AA or NA group itself will provide many opportunities to meet and interact with different types of people. Get in the habit of asking for phone numbers so that you can call or text others when you are feeling shaky.
Tools of Recovery
You will learn other tools of recovery in rehab. For example, the 12 steps of AA or NA are a roadmap to finding yourself in sobriety. By working the steps, you will recognize where you have been and what you could have done differently, and you will begin to get to know yourself in sobriety. One of the ways to get to know yourself is through journaling. Write down what you are experiencing and feeling each day. The act of writing can help you process your feelings and even uncover new realizations. Your journal can also be used to make gratitude lists to remind yourself of all the good things and people in your life. These are the things, people and experiences that you don’t want to lose by drinking or drugging again. A gratitude list can help you to recognize that life isn’t all bad, and that you don’t need to run from reality anymore. In rehab you will learn that the time you used to spend drinking or using drugs can now be spent doing other activities. Rediscover old hobbies. Learn new things by taking painting or craft classes. Consider participating in exercise classes such as Zumba, tai chi or yoga. Embrace the ability to live in reality. Once you are sober, you can find new passions or rediscover old ones. Pay attention to the things and activities that bring you joy and make you feel most connected to yourself. These are the things you will fill your sober life with. In sobriety, you are on a journey to experience all that life has to offer without trying to escape, and you will be able to become the best version of yourself possible.