Life in recovery is an ongoing process and leaving your old lifestyle behind can be exceedingly difficult. Even though you have successfully made it through rehabilitation, this is just one of the first steps in the recovery process. We have covered some methods of moving forward and amending relationships after addiction—but what’s next? You are well aware of the challenges of addiction, and recovery is a challenge of its own. Despite everything you have overcome, there is still the opportunity to use your substance abuse recovery as an occasion to seek personal growth. The self-growth portion of your recovery never has to end, but what does it look like? We are going to uncover some ways that you can successfully cultivate a new life and thrive in your sobriety for years to come.
What does personal growth during recovery look like? A Washington University study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment asked this same question to residential treatment center focus groups to gain more insight. 65 individuals in recovery revealed how they personally changed for the better after their struggles with substance abuse.
The group was able to universally agree what growth looked like for them, it included: deepening ties with close family and friends; coming to the understanding they are not alone; developing more empathy and compassion for others; learning what really mattered in life; and knowing there is nothing they can’t handle.
How were these 65 individuals able to reach these conclusions? They mentioned these personal approaches:
“I try to appreciate— and not trying to sound romantic about it — but I appreciate when there is nice weather now, a lot more than I used to. And I just appreciate a lot more of that. I mean, when I think back on all the stuff I’ve gone through, I appreciate the fact that I’m just alive. It is not just feeling good physically, it is a matter of there is a lot of little things that I just appreciate.” “I am grateful for everything that has happened in my life that brought me here, and that’s from my heart.” “Before, my family could not talk about anything, and this kind of forced them to come together because of my crisis.” “I’m blessed that I’ve got a good-paying job, and if I see somebody and truly feel that they need a couple of bucks, I’ll give it to them without them asking.”
How To Seek Growth
Although substance abuse is an ugly disease—many people are better now than they were before. Psychologists call this process posttraumatic growth. The UNC Charlotte Posttraumatic Growth Research Group defines it as a “positive change experienced as a result of the struggle with a major life crisis or a traumatic event.” This growth can be experienced in 5 ways:
- Sometimes major life crises can open new doors for opportunity. Life struggles can help individuals experience personal development and drive, which can cause the emergence of possibilities that were not present before. Strive to look for new areas of opportunity that your recovery may have led you to. Your future is in your hands now and out of the reigns of addiction.
- After rehabilitation many individuals will strengthen pre-existing bonds with loved ones. While becoming closer with those in their inner circles, many people will also experience an increased feeling of connection with others who are suffering with addiction disorders. This increased empathy and understanding, usually obtained from group therapies, allows those in recovery to build new relationships that are long lasting. Work to build and sustain meaningful relationships—this will not only help maintain sobriety, but help you appreciate those around you.
- Personal Strength. Many people in recovery begin to develop a sense of their own strength. They adopt a, “if I lived through that, I can face anything” mentality. This improved strength helps individuals adopt a reinvigorated life. Be proud of what you have overcome and acknowledge your inner strength. Give yourself credit and allow yourself to find personal happiness in your new life.
- Living through an addiction makes many individuals feel grateful to be alive. Recovery is not easy, and acknowledging small things to appreciate throughout the day will help you seek long-term personal growth. What are you thankful for? What makes you happy? Answer these questions on a regular basis and be grateful.
- Many individuals will experience a type of “spiritual awakening” while in recovery. This can involve a significant change in their belief systems or simply a deepening of their spiritual lives. If you experienced spiritual growth during recovery, continue to find ways to stay rooted. Find others you can grow with spiritually, and pinpoint the ways you personally stay connected.
It is important to go into your new life in recovery strong. You have been through a lot—and now it your time to thrive. Move forward, amend relationships, and seek the growth you deserve. Recovery is life-long, but you can use that to your advantage. Your journey is just beginning—start now & keep flourishing.