How can you put your life back together after addiction? Healing happens when you reintegrate healthy connections with yourself and others.
Once you admit you’re broken, you must agree to look at reconnecting the pieces of your life that addiction has torn apart. Your relationships may be strained, estranged, or severed. Your health may be compromised. Your finances may be in shambles. Your career may be crumbling. Your faith may be lost. There is HOPE.
Here are five areas that you can focus on today to establish healthy activities and put your life back together, post-addiction.
It can be daunting to be broken, realizing you need to put together the pieces of your life with nobody there to help. That is what addiction can do—siphon off support.
The first piece that must be put into place is the one that says you are worth being put back together. This isn’t a value judgment anyone else can make for you—you must make it for yourself.
The relationship that stands as the foundation for your other relationships is the one you have with yourself. This is the relationship that was first and foremost damaged by your addiction.
Before others will believe you’re telling the truth, you must relentlessly be truthful with yourself. Recovery depends on your capacity to tell and accept the truth—not for a certain outcome or to convince someone you’ve changed, but because truth is a powerful shield against an addiction’s attempt to gain you back.
The healthier the relationship with yourself, the healthier your relationships with others. Not only does truth allow you to see yourself more clearly, it allows you to see others more clearly. This is vital to recovery.
Addiction numbs pain. Recovery allows you to start feeling again. Putting the pieces back together must include finding a new context for the emotions that supported the addiction. Those emotions are there. They exist, and pretending they don’t is playing back into the hand of the addiction. Instead, they need to be brought forward, understood, and put back into places that support recovery.
As these repressed emotions are released, they allow a healthier flow of emotional responses. Dealing with sadness without sinking into despair; weathering frustrations without catastrophizing; accepting joy in the moment without worrying about the future; tolerating difficult people without withdrawing are just a few examples.
Practice actively adjusting to these post-addiction emotional challenges. Recognize them, acknowledge them, and choose to approach them with balance.
A piece of recovery that often takes time to resolve can be intellectual. Recovery reveals possibilities, including intellectual pursuits.
Your energy and drive previously devoted to the addiction can now be channeled down different paths. Recovery means discovering new interests or rediscovering interests long buried. Challenge yourself to, well, challenge yourself intellectually. Read more, learn a language, travel, join groups that will force you to think about areas of intrigue.
Some pieces cannot be put back in the same place. A physical piece of a forty-year-old in recovery is not going to fit back into a twenty-year-old slot.
When putting physical pieces back into place, you must work with the pieces you have, not the pieces you had when you started the addiction. This is especially the case if the addiction has been years or decades in the making.
This may seem like bad news but is actually good news. Once the addiction stops, damage to the body ceases and the body can start a process of healing. Freed by recovery, the body can return to using its energy to rebuild, replenish, and renew itself. Because you rely so much on your physical body to provide energy, transport, and positive emotion, a healthier body heals the entire you in the process.
Many of those in recovery are unaware of the synergy between their physical and psychological health. When the whole person is factored into recovery, where before the body was an unwitting participant in the addiction, the body can now become an engine of renewal to support the other pieces of recovery.
At The Center • A Place of HOPE, we believe in creating a professional recovery team that includes medical, nutritional and fitness professionals.
So many questions that arise in recovery are what I consider “life questions.” And life questions are often deeply spiritual. They deal with purpose and meaning, value and worth, failure and redemption.
What is my purpose? What are my core values? How do I have a relationship with God when I often felt the absence of God during my addiction?
Working with a professional counselor can provide great help when dealing with spiritual matters. The spiritual “piece” can be as important, or more important than, the others. At our core, we seek purpose, value, and love. For most, those destinations come only from understanding our purpose, values, and connection with God.
Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, voted a top ten facility for the treatment of depression in the United States. Dr. Jantz pioneered Whole Person Care in the 1980’s and is a world-renowned expert on eating disorders, depression, anxiety, technology addiction, and abuse. He is a leading voice and innovator in Mental Health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 37 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN.