It is doubtful that anyone completely knows the who, what, and why of identity. It is only natural to want to learn, and people do it many ways, from overcoming challenges to taking “selfies” to hanging out with friends and talking.
What’s more, identities are complicated, and humans can be especially adept at hiding an addiction to drugs or alcohol behind a façade of competence and of generally “having things together.” An unfortunate fact about addiction, however, is that the addiction itself elbows out so many other aspects of identity that the addict wonders who he or she is without it. Drug and alcohol rehab is a first step toward embracing a drug-free identity.
Developing a positive drug-free identity is necessary, but challenging; doing so without the assistance of drug and alcohol rehab can be nearly impossible for many people. Being able to say, “I’m a great dad,” or “I’m an artist,” or “I’m a leader in my community” after overcoming addiction is incredibly powerful. Building a positive drug-free identity lays a strong foundation for a rich, full, rewarding life that does not include drugs or alcohol.
A Key Question in the Addiction Recovery Process
Recovery from addiction is as complex as recovery from any other disease. Mental attitude can help bolster physical recovery, or it can sabotage it. One key question that substance abuse counselors help people in recovery to address is, “Who am I without drugs and alcohol?”
For many people, that is an overwhelming question, showing in stark relief the differences between the drug-free person they aspire to be and the addict in recovery they are. It takes personal commitment to begin the process of answering this question, and having an experienced therapist, recovery resources, and a positive, sober community help ensure the effort will result in lasting, positive change.
Positive Steps Toward Embracing Your Drug-Free Identity
There is no single, prescribed algorithm for developing and embracing your own drug-free identity, but there are several commonalities among people who are able to do so. Positive steps toward your unique, drug-free identity include:
- Cleansing your body of mind-altering substances, often through medical detox that allows you to see that addiction stands in the way of real coping and recovery. Becoming clean of your drug of choice through drug and alcohol rehab brings you to your starting point for building a drug-free identity.
- Learning what brings you joy and why, which is highly individual. Detox only begins with getting the addicting substance out, because the body and mind have to work to stabilize your chemical balance. Some people do not know or do not remember what brings them joy, so this step may require participating in a variety of therapeutic activities to find out.
- Incorporating these “joyful” activities into life, without drugs and alcohol. Knowing what brings you joy and how you can incorporate that into your life is a powerful fortification against the stresses of daily life. It helps you to move away from establishing an identity based on bad choices and drug or alcohol use and toward establishment of a positive, self-loving identity.
Understanding Your Identity Is a Process, Not a Milestone
Knowing “who you are” is powerful, but it is not static, because people change, environments change, and time propels everyone forward. Think of development of your positive, drug-free identity as a continual process, and not some “milestone” you reach after having completed a set of tasks. Learning to be yourself as a family member, friend, co-worker, neighbor, or community member without drugs and alcohol takes time, but eventually you learn that the person you are is not the person you were when you were under the crushing weight of addiction.
Getting addicting substances out of your life is only the first step to developing a positive, drug-free identity. In a way, it is a tremendous opportunity: the opportunity to finally be your healthiest self, unencumbered by drugs or alcohol. Drug and alcohol rehab is ultimately about helping you find your place in the world, where you can use your unique strengths and gifts to make your own best life and to be a positive influence on others. If you are ready to commit to learning about and realizing your new, drug-free identity, contact us. We want to hear from you, and we stand ready to help.
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