One of the most important aspects of recovery from addiction is self development. In fact, we could go so far as to say that personal development is recovery. Recovery is personal growth. If you are not growing as a person in recovery and learning new things and pushing yourself to create a new life, then you are likely sliding backwards towards a relapse. It is that simple. You have to grow in order to thrive in recovery.
Most recovery programs, including the 12 step program, seem to nudge people towards pursuing this level of growth and development in recovery. Some programs are more focused at doing this than others, but they all seem to contain this element. There are a couple of reasons that personal growth is so important for recovery from addiction. Let’s take a look:
Personal growth – If all you do is sober up and stay away from drugs and alcohol, then not much will necessarily change in your life. One of the keys to recovery is that you have to push yourself a bit to achieve new things. Some people shun the idea of goal oriented living, but it is usually leaps and bounds better than our old way of life that we had in active addiction. Set some goals and start reaching for them, and your recovery will naturally get better as your life improves.
Holistic health – This should set the agenda for what you strive for in your recovery. ”Holistic” just means that you are addressing all aspects of your health, not just your spiritual fitness. So you might work on emotional balance, or your spirituality, or physical fitness, and so on. Take one goal at a time and start building momentum as you knock them off one by one.
Self esteem – most people underestimate the importance of self esteem in recovery. Nearly every single addict and alcoholic is suffering from some form of screwed up self esteem in their lives, regardless of how they come off to the world, as many of them are actively covering it up with a show of anger. But underneath it all, if the drug addict does not learn how to start truly valuing themselves and their lives, then they will have no real protection against the threat of relapse.
Building self esteem is relapse prevention. In fact, it is the number one relapse prevention strategy.
So how can you focus on self development and build healthy self esteem?
There are couple of things you can do in recovery to pursue this path. Obviously there are no right or wrong answers here, but there are some great suggestions:
1) Find a way to reach out and help others in recovery – if you can do this on a consistent basis, then it will make a huge difference in building up your own self esteem. This will strengthen your own recovery a lot.
2) Find your passion and purpose in recovery and start pursuing it. Set goals and meet them. Find out what gets you excited and start moving towards it.
3) Start caring for yourself in a holistic manner. This means that you need to start taking care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and so on. Be good to yourself in nearly every way, even if you do not have the motivation to do so. Force yourself to take excellent care of you. This will pay huge dividends in the long run if you make it into a habit. For example, start exercising, eat better, quit smoking, engage in healthy activities with friends, and so on.