How to Find Yourself In Sobriety
As you transition from active addiction to sobriety, you may be struggling to find your identity. In active addiction, drugs or alcohol consume you. Your daily routine and hobbies all become focused around how you’re going to get more substances. The things you once loved and hobbies you once enjoyed have disappeared or seem unattainable.
Now that you are in recovery, it’s time to decide who you want to be. You have the freedom to reclaim aspects of your old identity prior to using and create a new one to become the best version of yourself.
Losing Your Identity as an “Addict”
Outside of addiction, what are your hobbies? What do you enjoy doing? If you recently found sobriety, you may be having a difficult time answering these questions. You are not alone! Many people who are just starting out on their journey through recovery find that they can’t remember who they were before they started using substances or maybe can’t recall a life prior to addiction.
If you shed your identity as solely being an “addict,” you might end up shedding your entire identity, especially if you’ve been using for a long time. You may have struggled with an addiction for so long, you can’t remember what you used to do for fun, or you were too young when you started using and never had the chance to develop a clear sense of your identity or define who you are.
Now that you are sober and in the process of shedding your sole identity as an “addict,” you may not know who you are or even recognize yourself. You may feel lost or confused and unsure of what direction to go in. Who are you now that you’re sober? You get to decide!
Creating a New Identity
Now that you’re sober, you get to reinvent yourself and discover new, healthy things you love doing or might be passionate about. Who do you want to be? What do you want to get out of life? What do you want to be known for?
You deserve to live a life of your choosing, not dictated by other people or substances. You get to choose what you want out of life - empowerment, stability, or serenity - and who you want to be - compassionate, loving, fun, or generous. In recovery, you have more time to invest in yourself and in your life because you’ve gotten rid of the prison sentence that is addiction. You have the freedom, and more time, energy, and even money, to try new, healthy things that align with your values. Engage in activities and behaviors that reflect who you want to be and it can help you form your new identity.
As you navigate all of the new feelings, rewards, and challenges that come with sobriety, it’s important that you actively take steps to prevent yourself from using drugs or drinking again. It’s common for individuals in recovery to relapse, but there are steps you can take to ensure sobriety.
Clearly identify your priorities. What do you want to accomplish? What are your (reachable) goals? Set boundaries to help you achieve those goals and stick to them. It’s easy to get pressured into doing things that can steer you away from meeting your goals and maintaining sobriety. If something makes you feel uncomfortable or uneasy, don’t do it.
Identify sober hobbies, activities, and relationships that can help you stay sober, and steer clear of things, environments, and people that will likely put you at risk of relapse. Also keep in mind that you don’t have to constantly be entertained or feel a rush. Take life slow and find ways to enjoy peace and quiet. This may take some getting used to, so a great way to learn how to enjoy quiet time and the slow pace of sober life is to practice mindfulness. You’ll learn how to relax, cope with your emotions, and enjoy down time which emphasizes the importance of redefining entertainment, fun, and even boredom.
Sobriety is a Gift
You have the freedom to define who you are. This is the most wonderful gift that comes with sobriety. Learn from the mistakes of your past and embrace the person you are today - the person you choose to be. Don’t allow anyone to judge you or tell you who you can or cannot be. When you are sober you are in total control of your life and your identity.
Therapy can provide you with the tools you need to decide what your future holds and to chart your own course. If you need one-on-one support, we offer counseling for adults struggling with addiction and recovery, as well as their loved ones. Contact Heather Violante, Psy.D. today at 954.391.5305 ext. 8 or at her website to find out how we can help you stay on the path to sobriety and wellness.