Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction is difficult for anyone. However, the process may be doubly challenging if you’re an introvert. As someone who is naturally more shy and reserved, you may find yourself intimidated by the social demands of rehab programs, or unsure of how to handle group situations without drugs or alcohol.
Even though it may sometimes feel like your introversion works against you, your temperament actually has a number of unique advantages in recovery. The following tips can help you embrace your perspective, overcome fears you have of treatment, and stay strong through the lifelong process of recovery.
1. Work to Understand and Accept Yourself
Many people see their introversion as something shameful. In a society that seems to expect limitless energy for social interactions, it can be difficult to value the quiet, contemplative power of introverts. To compensate, many introverts start using drugs and alcohol to counteract their natural shyness and adapt to the expectations of an extroverted world. In the short term, mind-altering substances can make it easier to socialize with others in situations that might otherwise feel nerve-racking and uncomfortable. This act might work for a while, but using drugs and alcohol to cope is an unsustainable long-term solution. Eventually, you’ll be left feeling emotionally drained, physically exhausted and just as inadequate, because at the end of the day you know it’s all a charade. As Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
You don’t have to live your whole life believing you’re stupid or measuring your worth with an extrovert’s yardstick. Recovery is an opportunity for you to stop trying to be something that you aren’t, and accept yourself as you are. As an introvert, you may always feel a little uncomfortable in large groups. Some people prefer solitude or the company of close friends to large parties and crowded bars, and that’s OK.
2. Embrace the Benefits of Professional Rehab
If you’re an introvert, a full-time rehab program might sound like your worst nightmare. The idea of spending an extended amount of time with a group of strangers is anxiety-inducing enough on its own. Compounding it with the fact that you’ll be expected to share some of your most vulnerable thoughts, feelings and memories in a group setting is enough to make any introvert avoid getting help, even if they desperately need it.
Treatment can seem daunting, but the benefits of professional care far outweigh any discomfort you may initially feel. While it can be difficult to work up the courage to seek professional help, there are a number of steps you can take to mentally prepare for treatment.
- Do your research. Before committing to a specific facility, take some time to explore your options. By visiting and carefully evaluating every center you’re considering, you can select a treatment program that allows time for quiet reflection.
- Prepare to be honest. By admitting up front that you feel nervous in group settings or need time alone, you can help your peers better understand your needs. Your honesty may also encourage someone who was afraid to speak up to be open about their shy temperament, too.
- Take advantage of your free time. Most rehab programs allow participants a designated amount of time every day for themselves. While you may feel pressured to spend this time socializing with your peers, use it to recharge in whatever way works for you. Pack a journal if you like to write, or a sketchbook if you enjoying drawing. Whatever you do, make sure to make time for you.
While rehab might make you feel out of your element, consider the advantages that being an introvert can bring to the experience. You might already be skilled at the kind of self-reflection necessary for long-term healing, or may be less likely to fall under the sway of peer pressure. These natural gifts can make you better equipped to handle the work of professional care, and may even set you up for success in long-term recovery.
3. Find Others Who Understand
Social support is an important part of lifelong recovery. As an introvert, forging close ties with other introverts who are also in recovery might be particularly important to your healing. During formal treatment and support group meetings, take time to seek out like-minded individuals. Exchange tips and tricks for feeling more comfortable in group settings. Congratulate them when they’re able to open up at meetings, and offer empathy when they’re nervous about attending a particularly anxiety-inducing social event soberly. Maybe they can support you in similar scenarios. Either way, knowing you have someone in your life who understands what you’re going through can make the challenges of sobriety less daunting, and recovery a little less lonely.
4. Utilize Aftercare Options that Work for You
While a professional rehab program provides a solid foundation for recovery, aftercare is essential to building a fulfilling life outside of drug and alcohol use. However, like traditional rehab programs, many conventional aftercare methods can be a source of anxiety for introverts. Most involve some form of group therapy, which may prove stressful if you’re uncomfortable with sharing personal stories in large settings.
Fortunately, there are ways to participate in aftercare that don’t involve standard Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous group meetings. If you don’t enjoy in-person meetings, online options are available. These groups allow you to share your experiences with others in recovery, without having to go through the uncomfortable process of talking to a room full of strangers. One-on-one talk therapy can also provide a good outlet to work through your feelings and cope with any roadblocks in the way of your recovery.
5. Be Patient With Yourself
Recovery is a lifelong process. You’ll have good days and bad days. What’s important is that you try to be as gentle with yourself as you can, throughout the highs and the lows. Part of this may include coming to terms with the fact that no two recovery processes are exactly alike. As an introvert, you may need to seek special accommodations, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
A better life is closer than you think. If you’re ready to take the first step to lifelong recovery, The Recovery Village is here to help. Reach out to a representative today to get started.