Does Social Identity Play a Role in Addiction Recovery?

Does Social Identity Play a Role in Addiction Recovery?

Who are you? If you were to describe who you are, what would you say? Most of us describe ourselves by the roles that we take on in society. Here are a few examples:






Whether we feel like we are or not, we’re part of society – and what we do does have an impact on the way we feel about ourselves, how we affect others as well as the way others view us. Addiction recovery is often a time that brings us back to this very question of social identity, and it can take us a long time to really come to grips with the answer. Humans are social beings, and our social identity does a play a role. In 2015, researchers found a variety of pathways that people take in terms of social identity – and for many, it all starts with being a part of the recovery community.

People often used the term “alcoholic” or “addict” to describe their social identity, but later come to use “a recovering person” to describe their role. This transition is a difficult one, and it’s because our culture tends to apply these “permanent” labels of “alcoholic” or “addict” as if to describe who the person is. As human beings, however, we’re much more complex than this. We have histories, fears, hopes, dreams, talents, personality, relationships and a host of other factors that make us more than what we’re going through at one time. Those in recovery work hard to build new social identity roles in the areas of work, study and family life, and that’s because their substance abuse once took over these parts of themselves.

Everyone has painful mistakes they’ve made in their lives, but for some reason, those with addiction are ostracized as if that is all they are. Fortunately, we have the power to create our own social identities, and it really all starts from within. Buddha once stated, “You demonstrate love by giving it unconditionally to yourself, and as you do, you attract others into your life who are able to love you without conditions.”

Social identity does play a role in recovery, and mainly by the way it transitions as a person changes their view of themselves over time. The process is beautiful, painful and winding, but it’s ultimately a soul-searching journey that’s courageous and life changing.

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.