“My Identity shifted when I got into recovery, That’s who I am now, and it actually gives me greater pleasure to have that identity than to be a musician or anything else because it keeps me in a manageable size…..it gives me a spiritual anchor.”
This is a quote by Eric Clapton on his sobriety journey and also how his identity changed. With sobriety comes a change in habits, in relationships and also a change to one’s identity. This transition can be daunting and change can feel uncomfortable, but it is an important topic within the recovery journey and shouldn’t go without mention.
Recovery is one of life’s greatest accomplishments but it is important to understand that once out of rehab the journey continues, being sober after all is a lifelong process. At first, the whole process may appear overwhelming as a change in identity can be applied to many aspects of your life. However, it is an opportunity to look at this identity as a new version of you, a chance to rebuild upon previous goals, ambitions and relationships.
Fear can be a component when learning how to socialise sober and social situations may be seen as a trigger and therefore isolation may occur. Although it is important to establish and understand triggers, it is also important to grasp a new form of socialising in an aid to prevent feelings of loneliness. Are there new ways to socialise such as different activities like long walks, theatre, book clubs that you may not have participated in before? Social anxiety is also a leading cause as to why people turn to alcohol during social occasions. During rehab, social anxiety should be treated alongside the addiction and this work should continue with coping mechanisms to allow you to cope and also enjoy social interactions, without the need to use alcohol or other substances. AA/CA meetings are also vital for the recovery process, and new bonds may form with others who are going through a similar process – potentially offering a support network.
Careers may have been hindered during the addiction process, goals may not have been achieved or you may have been functioning alcoholic? For some, work may be one of their triggers, for example, lunch meetings, after work drinks, or where social occasions are common such as, work in the music/film/PR/events industry. It may also be a challenging and intimidating process when returning to work, but try and see it as an opportunity to achieve new goals, with a clearer and healthier mind which will be able to help you do this. Routine and structure with a new aim, focus or target can help you feel motivated and help your build your self esteem.
It isn’t uncommon for people in recovery to have been subjected to broken or difficult relationships either with family, friends or loved ones. Relationships may also be part of the reason for recovery, which could have stemmed from childhood leading to feelings of betrayal or trauma. Re-building relationships may take time, but most people will be pleased to see the new you and you can start having relationships with people who can learn who you really are. It is also important to surround yourself with good people, and you can start to understand and reflect on what true friendships/relationships feel like. Surround yourself with people who understand addiction as a disease and will respect your sobriety without being treated differently. One of the most important relationships to work on, is also the relationship you have with yourself – you can start to enjoy and discover who you really are without hiding behind an addict identity.
Sleep, diet, exercise are all things that may have been previously abused or neglected. Rehabs help with routine and addiction centres like ibiza calm will have a holistic approach to treatment and can help you get back into a healthier lifestyle, which may have previously been lost. There may be some anxiety around not knowing what to do if there is more time on your hands but take this time to discover new things or hobbies you may not have discovered before, or may not have actually been ‘present’ with. Don’t be afraid in having silent alone times too, these are important to reflect and to continue breathing or mindfulness exercises.
Triggers and learning how to deal with them after rehab has proven to reduce the chance of relapse, especially in the first 6months. At our treatment centre Ibiza Calm, we value this and provide advice and support in the form of an exit plan prior to the stated leaving date. Aftercare is also part of our package with follow up therapy sessions provided as we feel it is important to a part of your whole journey as an inpatient but also as an outpatient.
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