Addiction is an illness that affects every aspect of an individual’s life. Once someone is hooked on drugs or alcohol, their lives can quickly spiral out of control. It might take years or months to get to a point of no return, depending on the individual’s ability to keep the addiction in check, but it eventually happens.
As their lives spiral downwards, those struggling with alcohol or substance abuse often appear oblivious to their plight. We have often heard from friends or family members of addicts who express concern about their loved one’s inability to realize or acknowledge the damage they are causing not only to themselves but to others around them.
As the addiction takes control of their lives, it gets to a point where nothing else matters but the next fix or high. They may lose their jobs, become estranged from their families, and even deteriorate physically but they’ll ignore this. Oftentimes, those with an addiction will be in denial and when confronted will claim that things aren’t that bad, that they have things under control, or that they can stop any time they want. Nothing could be further from the truth.
But what makes them behave this way? Mostly a lack of self-awareness.
Self- Awareness and Addiction
Self- awareness is defined as having a clear perception of your strengths and weaknesses, knowing your motivations and beliefs as well as having control over your emotions. It includes the ability to recognize your emotional reactions, patterns, triggers, and the effect your behavior has on others. It also plays a key role in helping you understand why you do what you do.
Unfortunately, addiction can strip away our self-awareness. Excessive use and dependence on drugs and alcohol dull an individual’s feelings and emotions, changing how they see themselves. It gets to a point where you can no longer accurately assess your behaviors and motivations and can’t keep your emotions under control. What’s worse, those struggling with addiction are often exceptionally good at rationalizing or denying their behavior, deceiving themselves that everything is okay when it really isn’t.
As their lives and relationships crumble, they fall deeper into addiction, preferring to use drugs or alcohol to get through life and change how they feel instead of confronting the mess they’ve made. This is the tragedy of addiction. It gradually erodes an individual’s self-awareness, making them unaware of their personal power and robbing them of the ability to control their lives. The addict’s focus shrinks to feeding their addiction, ignoring all other responsibilities. Unable to communicate effectively, they become unhappy and dig deeper into addiction to escape those feelings. It becomes a vicious cycle.
How Self-Awareness Helps in Drug Addiction Treatment and Rehab
One key aspect of addiction treatment here at the Robert Alexander Addiction Treatment Center in Kentucky is working to rebuild self-awareness in our clients. Self-awareness is crucial for those in recovery because it helps them uncover and understand the root causes of their addiction and their triggers as well.
As an addict working on recovery, having greater self-awareness helps you regulate your emotions, break bad habits, and live intentionally. The more self-aware you become, the less of a slave you’ll be to your addiction.
At our rehab center, we teach those in recovery- whether it’s an alcoholic going through the Intensive Outpatient Program or a recovering drug addict in our Outpatient Program– what we call the “Pause and Plan Response”. This useful tool encourages you to pause when you spot one of your triggers, assess the situation critically then consciously planning your response. The objective here is that using this strategy, you can examine thought patterns and emotions that previously led to drug use and consciously work to change them for more favorable ones and eventually make choices that are in line with your recovery goals and objectives.
Building Self- Awareness to Aid in Addiction Recovery
The addiction treatment and recovery programs at our Kentucky rehab center incorporate various activities that encourage our clients to build their self-awareness. These are included in either individual or group therapy sessions to increase their effectiveness.
Some of the ways we encourage clients in our treatment center to become more self-aware include:
- Talking and sharing their feelings and thoughts in group therapy. Sharing your feelings with others forces you to examine yourself and your actions and also requires you to be open to receiving feedback from others. Some of what others have to say about you might be painful to hear, but it could be an eye-opener into your behavior, showing you what needs to be changed.
- Discussing their thoughts with counselors during individual therapy. Opening up to someone isn’t easy, especially if you are a recovering addict. During individual therapy sessions, our therapists ask questions designed to help our clients to gain a better understanding of themselves. They also work together to come up with strategies that help regulate emotions and improve communication.
- Practicing different forms of self-reflection. We also teach recovering addicts different ways to stimulate self-reflection such as journaling, music, or art therapy. Journaling is especially useful in helping individuals become familiar with their thoughts and emotional patterns which in turn allows them to better understand themselves.
- Practicing mindfulness meditation. Taking time to meditate and center yourself is a helpful strategy to learn. Just sitting quietly and paying attention to the present helps eliminate anxiety and stress that may tempt you back into using or drinking. It’s also a great way to lower stress.
- Self-talk conditioning. We also encourage our clients to maintain positive inner dialogue to help boost their self-awareness. Life in recovery can get hard sometimes but beating yourself up isn’t going to help. What does, is encouraging yourself, being positive, and continuously working towards your recovery goals.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, we can help. The Robert Alexander Center for Recovery in Kentucky has all the resources needed to effectively beat addiction. Call us today at (502) 443-9950 for more information about our addiction treatment programs.