Learning and Healing in Drug Addiction Recovery

Learning and Healing in Drug Addiction Recovery


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Drug addiction recovery is a process that starts out with surrender and progresses to creative, purposeful living. If someone is trying to overcome drug addiction, but they try to start out the process in a different way (such as by trying to control their drug use), then they have not really started on the process of recovery.  In fact, early recovery is characterized by two distinct processes: healing and learning.  But of course, you have to surrender before you can really use either of these tools to help yourself grow.


This is an important concept for early recovery. If a person is still trying to manipulate things in their life, then they are not on a path of healing. The idea is that you have to let go of everything: the struggle to use drugs, the struggle to find the ways and means to get more drugs, the struggle to stay medicated and still appear somewhat normal to our friends and family, the struggle to maintain our responsibilities in the face of mounting pressure as our life spins out of control, and so on. The moment of true surrender is when you let all of that slide.  When you let go of everything.

Going to inpatient drug rehab is not a magic cure for addiction, but it can be a strong indicator that someone has surrendered. It is a big thing to commit to checking in to a treatment center. In order to do so, you have to let go of a lot of things, and a lot of control. It can be a sign of surrender.

The healing process

Early recovery is a time of healing. You get clean and sober and you make the decision that you are actually going to maintain this sobriety, one day at a time, and you are serious about it. You are learning all sorts of new things about how to live a sober life. But in addition to all the learning you must do, you also have to do some emotional processing.

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Most of us are beating ourselves up pretty bad at this point. We are hard on ourselves because we hate what we have become due to our addiction. Not only that, but most of us have hurt other people as well. For these reasons, we usually have some negative emotions that have built up: guilt, resentment, self pity, and so on.   In addition to this, our self esteem is generally suffering as well.

Now even though most of early recovery is strictly a learning process, a big part of it is also this emotional healing that needs to take place. At the bare minimum, the addict needs to forgive themselves enough to make a healthy start on recovery. If we are so down on ourselves that we do not even feel that we deserve to be clean and sober, it is going to be difficult to make any kind of real start on recovery.

This healing process is similar to the concept of surrender in that you are letting go of something. Release the feelings of guilt. Give yourself a break. Forgive yourself and start moving forward, vowing to do the best you can. How else can you possibly start to heal? You have to release the negative feelings that are holding you back.

There is no right or wrong way to do this. The key is that you follow through with this emotional processing and start moving forward.

The learning process

Like I said, the majority of drug addiction recovery is actually a learning process, as you have to learn how to live a clean and sober life without becoming completely miserable. Most people will need to learn how to use peer support in order to maintain sobriety on a daily basis, such as through daily meeting attendance. But the learning process goes far beyond that. Essentially you have to relearn how to do just about everything in your life while being clean and sober. This can be more challenging than it sounds (and more complicated!).

For example, the newcomer in recovery has to learn how to deal with their feelings without using drugs and alcohol. This is a huge challenge for most everyone in recovery. We have been medicating our feelings for so long with our drug of choice that it is very difficult to face reality without it. We are used to self medicating when we had a bad day, or when we were bored, or when we wanted to celebrate. Now we have to learn how to deal with those emotional states in their raw form again. This is one of the biggest challenges of recovery.

Just learning how to deal with feelings of hurt or anger can be a monumental challenge. Instead of escaping through our drug, we might have to actually confront other people and communicate honestly with them. Being able to do this is a learning process.

Another example would be in learning how to deal with boredom in recovery. We used to rely on our drug of choice for fun and entertainment, so what are we going to do now that we are clean and sober? Figuring out the answer to that is a learning process. It is almost like we have to rediscover ourselves in recovery, and find out what gets us excited and what our true passion is.

Be conscious of the 2 processes

So be aware that you might be needing one of two processes: learning or healing. They are distinct and different. Healing is generally about letting go of something. It is a release of sorts.

Learning is a building process. You are adding layers of information on to your life. It is not the same as healing. Sometimes we get wrapped up in the learning process, when in fact we just need to let go and surrender all over again.

Ask yourself: “Do I need to learn something here, or do I just need to let go and allow myself to heal?”

You might also ask yourself if you need to reach out and ask for help.  Sometimes we keep struggling and are fighting an internal battle that we cannot win without seeking help outside of ourselves.  If you or a loved one has fallen victim to addiction, you might consult a drug addiction treatment center for help.  This might be the step you need to take in order to start a new journey for yourself…..


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