Why is it Important to Continue the Healing Process?
Many people think recovery is finished when you’re done with your treatment. Whether it be detox, residential treatment, or a set of therapy sessions, these formal treatments are only the beginning. One recent study in the journal of Addiction Research and Theory describes the process of recovery as including “personal recovery capital.”
For a more sustainable healing process, a person needs to recover “physical capital such as health, financial assets, housing and human capital such as education/vocational skills, self-esteem, perception of one’s past/present/future, sense of meaning and purpose in life.”
The following are three creative ways to regain personal recovery capital as a part of your lifelong journey of sobriety, recovery, and holistic well-being.
# 1) Explore New and Productive Activities
When you participate in novel activities that are also productive, you create a positive neurological association.
- Challenge Yourself with a New Hobby: A challenging new hobby can impact your brain and body positively at the same time. It can be something as simple as adhering to a healthy eating plan, or joining an outdoor hiking, running, or cycling group. Whatever it is, it will require you to stick to it and will bring a sense of fulfillment. Maybe the hobby is a bucket-list type of wish that you’ve always been curious about.
- Overcome a Weakness: Part of the recovery process can include dealing with deep-seated fears or weaknesses. But not all overcoming has to take place in a therapy session. If you struggled with dancing with confidence in front of people, maybe tackling fear looks like signing up for a dance class. Another common fear is public speaking, so why not join a debate club or improvisation class? Facing fears in a safe and healthy environment is one of the best methods towards personal development. True accomplishment and overcoming fear leads to sustainable sense of fulfillment, endorphin release, and connection to others.
- Learn to Appreciate Natural Beauty: Coming out of substance abuse and addiction patterns means retraining your senses. One of the best ways to do this is through experiencing beauty. This does not need to mean traveling to a foreign country or making plans to visit somewhere exotic. Instead, try checking out a botanical garden in your city or the closest nature reserve. Or stay indoors to experience beauty and visit an art museum or gallery. Sometimes looking to the outside and appreciating what you see there can help a person in recovery rediscover a sense of renewed purpose.
# 2) Work On Mending Your Relationships
While in recovery treatment, mending relationships are an important part of reentering the world. Since engaging in substance abuse and addiction often results in risky and erratic behavior, it is likely that many of your relationships were damaged. This takes time to rebuild trust among both family and friends. Part of this process may include family therapy sessions, which can make a difference in both communication and bridge-building.
Other relationships that may have suffered during your substance abuse could also include work colleagues. If you’re considering resuming employment at the same company after returning from treatment, it’s important to find ways to heal your relationships at your workplace. This may mean making the extra effort and spending more time with those you want to rebuild your relationship with.
A final consideration is to be conscious about who you’re allowing to come into your life. Make sure those you’re rebuilding relationships with are friends that want the best and healthiest version of you. As much as reconciliation is important, it’s key to steer clear of toxic friendships, bad influences, and triggering situations that could lead to a relapse. These choices are the most difficult at the beginning of the reentry process.
# 3) Explore a New Career Path
Another creative way to continue healing is to explore new parts of yourself. This may include a new career path or employment trajectory. But depending on your situation, this may be more difficult if you lost your job because of addiction. But don’t lose heart: there are a number of excellent resources that can improve your chances of finding new employment. In this case, switching gears and starting with a clean slate in a new industry might benefit you more than you think.
- Consider Jobs Listed by Government Assistance Programs: Many state and most local governments offer free resources for those coming out of addiction treatment programs. Often with government assistance, a person can enroll in various trainings with employment experts who help you identify and articulate your unique situation. It’s best to consult with a professional before turning in your employment applications so you know how best to market your skills.
- Think About Freelancing or Part-Time Work: For some, stress may be a trigger for relapse. If this is you, think about pursuing a part-time job or freelance opportunity first to help ease your way back into the work force. This may be a better option, especially if you’re still working on managing your stress levels and responsibilities. Plus, freelancing can offer more flexibility and creativity if you have alternate ideas.
- Manage Your Expectations: Humility is an important part of the recovery process and this may include being humble about your first few jobs. By letting go of any unreasonable expectations and keeping an open mind, you may find that more job opportunities are presented to you than you ever imagined.
- Build Up Good References: You can start rebuilding your professional rapport by asking a few members of your support group to be your references. People who played important roles in your recovery process can be compelling references to possible employers. It’s best to always ask for permission beginning with your therapist, counselor, or even doctor.
Remember, recovery from substance abuse and addiction is a dynamic and lifelong process. Be creative with the healing process and never compromise the values and goals you set during your treatment program.
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