Becoming Your Own Advocate in Addiction Recovery: Everything You Need to Know

Become your own advocate during addiction recoveryAs you embark on this amazing journey of healing, truth and restoration, you’ll find that many people with cross your path along the way. Healthcare teams, administration professionals, doctors, recovery leaders, peers and more will quickly enter as you explore what options work best for you. Upon first attending a formalized treatment program, you’ll complete some assessments so that the treatment center you’re interested in can get a better understanding of who you are and whether or not you’d be a good fit for the program. Once you’ve been admitted, your journey to recovery has only begun.

Even though you’ll be meeting a lot of people who want to aid and support your recovery, these people won’t always know what it is that you need or want. They’ll be able to get some great ideas, of course, from talking to you and reviewing information about you such as your medical history, family history of abuse and more, but you’ll need to ensure that you let your recovery team know what you need, when you need it – so they can provide you with the best service possible.

Defining “Self-Advocacy”

Self-advocacy could be defined as believing in yourself and promoting what you believe is in your best interest for your mental, physical and spiritual health. There are a lot of treatment centers to choose from, but not everyone is going to place your needs as a top priority. Self-advocacy means being well-aware of your own needs and being able to articulate those needs to others, so they can better assist you. Here are some tips for self-advocacy:

  • Believe in your abilities. You know you better than anyone else does and you also know what your strengths/weaknesses are. What will you need to be successful in recovery? What do you need to be able to protect yourself from harmful situations?
  • Decide on some recovery goals and stick to them. Your therapist, sponsor, or other recovery leaders may guide you through this, but it truly is a form of self-advocacy because you’re creating a vision and taking steps towards something that will boost you in the long run.
  • Educate yourself. Learn all that you can about addiction and how it affects the brain, as well as aspects of recovery. 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) often provide excellent sources for self-advocacy by discussing relevant topics.
  • Gather support. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and distance yourself from those who hold you down.
  • Speak for yourself. The road to recovery is a serious undertaking and you are worth taking seriously. Speak clearly and respectfully, using as little words as possible to explain what you need. Doing this helps to avoid any confusion.

Finding Yourself

As you experience a variety of situations, you’ll come across moments where you’ve communicated efficiently and garnered the support that you needed. In other instances, however, you’ll feel you’ve fallen short – and at times, it can be disappointing. You must remember that recovery is a process with ups and downs, twists and turns, trials and errors – and it all takes time. It’s truly a matter of finding yourself, with no particular deadline in mind.

Research published in the journal Existential Analysis sought to explore how self-identity is built throughout addiction recovery and the researchers explained that we all have a story we tell ourselves about our own lives. Parts of our story may be the truth, while other parts may be nowhere near it. Recovery is about uncovering some of the parts that are currently hidden to us in an effort to become more authentic.

As part of the research study mentioned above, a story was shared of a man who struggled with addiction. Here is an excerpt from his story:

“With the dissolving of the old idea of self, went the dissolving of fears and the movement towards light (truth) began. The movement toward light brought a movement toward truth, and, to recall an old phrase, the truth set me free.”

How exactly do we uncover this truth?

Fully Engaging in Recovery

Awareness is at the heart of finding ourselves and connecting with a power greater than ourselves and addiction takes us away from that. 12-Step programs, however, guide us closer as we’re able to meet others who are walking similar paths as well as people who’ve become more confident in their own truth over time. A 2016 study found that working to develop a stronger sense of spirituality can reduce risk of relapse, promote greater engagement in recovery and more.

As you walk along this winding path, keep your eyes, mind and heart open to learning from your experiences. Ask questions and reach out to your recovery network for support. You’re not alone on this journey.

If you’re ready to begin the path towards healing, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today. The time to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit is now.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.