Why Structure is Important in Recovery
By: Cumberland Heights
When addiction is active, we find ourselves living a pretty constant routine of thinking and acting on our urges. Intense cravings arise, and it feels like we don’t have any other choice than to follow the disease’s demands. Recovery is a complete shift from these lifestyles, which means that major changes must take place. Once you enter a treatment program, you’ll find that it’s time to adjust to a new set of rules and way of living – which means that structure will become part of your day-to-day life. The goal of structure is to help you develop new habits – like eating a healthy breakfast first thing when you wake up, and getting your body used to adequate exercise throughout the week. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) does emphasize that each person’s routines may vary, depending on their needs. Ultimately, it’s about creating a life that’s best for you.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience stated that people in recovery often have trouble learning new, goal-directed behaviors, which is part of what contributes to relapse. It’s a completely different perspective that a person must take in order to start identifying whether their thoughts/urges are just habits, or whether they’re goal-directed. Treatment programs provide structure to help retrain the brain to think differently. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people release old, negative thought patterns and develop newer, more positive and productive ones. This all takes time, of course – but that structure that the therapist and activities provide really pave the way.
Structure also provides an environment where a person can thrive in developing the tools they need to overcome their obstacles. Just as children needs parents and students need teachers, those in recovery need a secure place with structured activities to really feel safe exploring their recovery. One father shared his experience with his son’s addiction via DrugFree.org. He talked about the fact that boundaries, not rules, are critical for those in recovery from addiction. He stated, “Boundaries help direct your universe when the rules do not apply or are not relevant.”
He stated that people need boundaries in order to protect themselves from their own actions, as well as from others. The structure that’s provided in treatment centers is meant to do just this – by establishing boundaries, a person in recovery can begin to strengthen their own. By building confidence in their own ability to implement those boundaries over time, they are likely to experience more success in their recovery.
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-campus, we are made up of 2 twelve-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.