Addictions—including behavioral addictions and substance use disorder (SUD)—can become all-consuming. Not only do they have several adverse effects on you, but they impact the lives of those closest to you. Addiction can feel like it bleeds into your identity through your actions and decisions. Over time, you can lose sight of the person you once were before falling victim to this merciless condition.
If you have recently left a rehabilitation program, you may be finding yourself lost and confused about your next steps. Perhaps all you have known for many months or years is the person you were in active addiction and treatment. However, who you were and what you did while under the influence do not have to define you. Rediscovering yourself during recovery can be a beautifully transformative process. It will not always be easy, but finding your identity outside of recovery is possible.
Losing Your Identity Along the Journey
Living a life free of active addiction requires you to give 100% of yourself to treatment. There will be times when your entire world revolves around recovery. Spending so much time in treatment and focusing on recovery makes it hard for you to concentrate on anything else. That may cause you to feel like you have lost your identity. However, focusing on hobbies, passions, and goals helps. Not only will it help you maintain recovery, but it will also help you rediscover who you are.
On one hand, due to its incurable and chronic nature, addiction is always a part of you. On the other hand, this does not mean addiction defines you. It is easy to lose yourself along your journey. Upon entering treatment, you may not recognize yourself at all. After leaving, you may still question who you are and what to do next. That is entirely normal, and there are ways of feeling a little less lost when starting your newfound life of recovery.
Taking Advantage of Alumni Programs
One way to manage those lost feelings in early recovery is to take advantage of an aftercare or alumni program. Recovery is an ongoing process and therefore requires ongoing support. Research indicates that individuals who stay connected through an aftercare program have better long-term outcomes. Addiction can be a very isolating disease, which is why community is so crucial.
How can an aftercare program help you find your identity outside recovery? Aftercare alone may not help, but such programs connect you with peers and professionals who can offer insights on finding your identity.
Many people leave treatment unsure of who they are. Discussing your new identity beyond addiction with individuals in long-term recovery can offer a new perspective on yourself. Plus, aftercare support can benefit you in many other ways. It keeps you connected with your recovery community, provides ongoing support from peers and professionals, offers meaningful insights, and allows you to share your success with others.
Identity and Relapse Prevention
In addition to aftercare programs, relapse prevention programs may also help you discover your identity outside of recovery. Relapse prevention is all about identifying risks and triggers associated with relapse. Furthermore, it provides a space to set goals for yourself.
When creating a relapse prevention plan, people often set goals for themselves. You may want to go back to school, find your dream career, or accomplish something else you have always dreamt of doing. Determining these goals is a great way to find out what you want and who you want to be moving forward. The more decisions you make, the more pieces of yourself you discover along the way. Slowly but surely, you will begin to look in the mirror and finally recognize yourself.
Taking The New You Out for a Spin
Once you have set goals for yourself, received insightful advice from peers, and have determined what you want out of your life, it is time to take the new you for a test drive. Getting out into the world will determine your likes and dislikes.
Maybe you want to try being a runner, but quickly learn you prefer to hike. Perhaps you have always wanted to try playing a musical instrument but find you have a passion for painting instead. The more you get out and try sober activities, the more you will discover about the new you. You may even rediscover parts of who you were before substance use.
Remember You Are Not Alone
Lastly, remember that you are never alone. It may not seem like it, but people lose sight of pieces of their identity every day. Some people lose themselves in work or cave under the pressure of family responsibilities. Regardless, the beautiful thing about us humans is that we are constantly changing and evolving.
Everyone goes through an identity crisis once in a while. We all need a little help in discovering who we are sometimes. You're not the only one who feels this way, and you're not the exception to the rule that says you can always find yourself again.
Untreated addiction and substance use disorder (SUD) can have several adverse effects on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. One of the many things addiction may rob you of is your sense of identity. Individuals entering treatment may not recognize themselves because they have changed so much from substance use. Additionally, living a life of recovery takes 100% and can make it hard to find an identity separate from your addiction. However, your addiction does not define you. Experiencing identity loss or confusion post-treatment is normal. You can find your identity outside recovery by taking advantage of aftercare support, discovering your likes and dislikes, and remembering that people are constantly changing. To learn more, call (303) 558-6400 today.