The Human Element of Addiction Recovery

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When we talk about addiction treatment and long-term recovery, we often consider the scientific and evidence-based elements. For example, we know that recovery in mental health and addiction often relies on a combination of therapy and medication. We need to talk about so many critical human elements in the addiction recovery process.

The human element in addiction recovery  can broadly refer to the connections you form in treatment, how your care providers approach your treatment plan, and the support system you have outside of the treatment in the form of friends and family.


What is the First Step in Recovery From Addiction?

The first step in recovery from substance abuse is always the admittance not just to others but to yourself that you have a problem. 

Recovery is a process with many steps, but the first is the hardest. The reason it’s so difficult to admit you have a problem with addiction to alcohol or drugs is that denial is core to addiction.

One of the first elements of addiction is denial. You lie to yourself and the people around you about using substances or how often you use them. You might also be in denial about why you’re using.

You tell yourself you don’t have to keep using drugs or alcohol and that you’re in control of your use.

As adverse effects begin to occur and disrupt your life, you deny your addiction has anything to do with those consequences.

Denial is what continues to fuel your addictive behaviors. When you’re able to take that first step of admitting the problem, you’re breaking that repetitive cycle of alcohol or drug addiction. You probably won’t go directly from complete denial to acceptance. Instead, you’re going to gradually see the many ways addiction affects your life and your relationships.


What’s Next?

Once you admit a problem, you might begin to consider treatment. Essential to addiction recovery is treatment not just for the substance use disorder but also for co-occurring mental health disorders. 

If you don’t deal with the root issues leading to your addiction, you’re more likely to relapse. Recovery in mental health requires a comprehensive recovery plan with your addiction plan.


Creating a Recovery Plan

So what is a recovery plan in mental health?

A recovery plan in both mental health and addiction is tailored to your needs. For a recovery plan to address the complexities of your situation, it needs to consider you as an individual. When you first seek treatment, that’s why the human element is automatically essential.

Your treatment providers need to take the time to learn about you. They will delve into your history of drug and alcohol use, mental illness, trauma, and other relevant factors influencing a treatment and recovery plan.

Your ability to feel like your providers empathize with you is core to a trusting relationship. Without a trusting relationship with your treatment providers, it’s unlikely your recovery plan will be successful.

Too often, in addiction recovery, the staff doesn’t take the time during the intake process to uncover even the smallest of details about individuals and their lives.


The Role of Empathy and Trust

You’re going to have to tell your treatment team some of the most challenging things in your life. You may feel shame or embarrassment, so without that human connection and sense of trust, you won’t be as honest as you need to be.

Often people who work in addiction treatment are themselves in recovery, which helps them form a stronger bond with their patients.

The people you meet during your treatment program can also be integral to your path to recovery. That’s one of the benefits of inpatient rehab—you’re connected with other people in a similar situation to your own. You can provide one another with family support and encouragement because you understand each other.

Depending on your situation, family therapy is a type of behavioral therapy that could also be part of your treatment program and recovery from alcohol or drugs. Addiction is very damaging to your relationships. When the family becomes part of your treatment plan, you can rebuild and strengthen relationships that suffered. 


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What About Your Support System in Recovery?

After you receive treatment and you’re in recovery, the community and support system around you can make a difference in your life.

It’s easy to start to feel like recovery is isolating. You’re re-learning how to live your life without drugs or alcohol. You may find that you have to break old routines and end relationships with people to maintain your health recovery.

However, you can rebuild relationships with loved ones you might have lost during active addiction. You can also form new relationships with people who support your sober lifestyle.

Your support groups can look like whatever works best for you. A support system doesn’t have to be formal. All it has to be are people who provide us with social or practical support in our daily lives. 

Your support system can simply be people who love you. It can also be a concept, such as a belief in a higher power that is shared with other members of a 12-steps program like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. You might have both types of support in your life.

There’s no wrong way to go about forming and maintaining a support system as long as it helps you maintain long-term sobriety and improves your quality of life. 


The Benefits of Having a Strong Support Network in Addiction Recovery

The following are some of the specific benefits that come with social support and highlight the human element in the lifelong process of addiction recovery programs:

  • When you make connections with people during your recovery journey, it helps you define that you’re in a new chapter in your life.
  • Isolation is a significant risk factor for relapse. Having a support network, on the other hand, having a support network is a relapse prevention protective factor. 
  • When some of your support systems include people also in recovery, you can reinforce new coping skills, accept the language of recovery, and then through those existing contacts, meet other people who are in recovery through those existing contacts.
  • You can find healthy activities that are sober to share with people in your support network. Finding alternative ways to spend your time is essential in recovery and key to a fulfilling, productive life. 
  • When you have a support network, you can turn to them during times of stress, which is a positive coping mechanism for your life in recovery. 
  • Having people, you can rely on can help you avoid the stigma that can come with addiction.
  • You’ll feel safer and more secure with a network of support.
  • You’re also providing support to other people, a protective mental health factor that can help you reduce drug cravings. 

Having a sense of community and belonging from the time you take your first step toward recovery throughout the rest of your life is such an important investment you’re making in yourself.

When you initially go to an addiction treatment center, everyone in your program should become your ally and part of your support network. This network includes your therapists, doctors, other medical professionals, and peers. Then, during that time, you can learn how to facilitate healthy support systems.

It can feel a little overwhelming to develop those human connections at first, and it can take trial and error to figure out the groups that work for you. Once you do, you’ll realize it’s a great gift you’re giving yourself for a healthier life and continuous abstinence from drugs or alcohol. 

If you’d like to learn about the first step in a recovery action plan, call Opus Health at 855-953-1345. We can answer questions you may have about effective treatments and our evidence-based approach to recovery.

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