It’s normal for addiction to make you feel helpless. Think back to the weeks, months, and years before you decided to seek treatment and get sober. For many of us, this time was peppered with moments of conflict between a voice that knew exactly what harm substance abuse was bringing into our lives and another that felt powerless to change.
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Substance use disorder is a condition characterized by compulsive use despite knowledge of the harmful consequences. In this state, we lose our sense of control over our actions, thoughts and even our power within our lives. Treatment and recovery allow you to change that.
The decision to come to treatment is a huge act of agency in its own right as the first step in regaining our sense of personal power. After that, there are many ways that both you and your chosen professionals can help you place self-empowerment at the core of your treatment.
When you’re at a rehab center, you should be allowed to take an empowered role in your treatment plan. You can expect the medical and therapeutic staff to give you the space you need as an active agent in your care. From day one, you can (and should):
Ethical addiction treatment will value your autonomy. The doctors and therapists are there with an invaluable wealth of knowledge that can help you move forward on your recovery path, but you are the key participant at the end of the day. Your needs, experience, and concerns are central to the agenda and need to be expressed and addressed.
Treatment works best when you approach it like a partnership. Instead of something you simply receive passively, it is an active process that involves a lot of work from your side too. The staff treating you will offer therapy, medical support, expert guidance, and a therapeutic environment, but sometimes the ball is in your court to help them help you. After all, recovery is a road that you will continue to walk long after your treatment ends. It’s not so surprising that people who are participating as empowered players in their own treatment have better health outcomes and quality of life. So, what can you do?
Knowledge is power, and the same goes for self-knowledge. Personal reflection builds the background in self-awareness that helps you anticipate and experience challenges without letting them push you into the passenger seat. Taking some time to check in with yourself at the end of each day also helps you take the fullest advantage of the therapies being offered, as you’ll have more to bring to the table. You need to know what you need to advocate and act for what serves you and what doesn’t.
During or after your first assessment, you’ll be involved in setting a plan for your stay in treatment. A personalized treatment plan will take into account your specific goals along with your doctors’ recommendations from the get-go. Later on, your provider will often give you the opportunity to reassess and redesign your plan based on what is working best, as well as your changing goals. You’ll have more to add during these discussions if you keep up your own personal goal setting.
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Nothing undermines our sense of empowerment like a negative mindset. Negative thoughts are all part of the process, but it’s all too easy for a few flyaway moments of negativity to shift into a full-blown addictive thought spiral. Mindfulness and gratitude practices are great ways to keep a positive perspective spinning to combat this kind of thought trap. Are you feeling stressed about delaying entering treatment for so long? Remember that you’re here now, making a change that will benefit you for the rest of your life. Recentering your thoughts with humility and gratitude and simply being present will become a rewarding second nature with time.
With all this in mind, remember that empowerment is an intrinsic part of recovery. This is a time you are actively committing to taking back charge of your actions and life – if that isn’t powerful, we don’t know what is.
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