An element not often discussed in addiction recovery is the identity change you experience while recovering from substance use or chemical dependency. While the change is ongoing, recovery is a huge life transition. It is much more than just stopping or quitting harmful substance use habits; it is about altering your lifestyle and understanding your worthiness of sober, joyful living.
The term identity encompasses the set of qualities, experiences, relationships, and values that make one person different from others. Everyone's identity is subjective and shaped through personal experiences. Everything that makes you, you contribute to your identity. Identity consists of all characteristics that determine who a person is.
Examples of identity include:
When addiction and substance use becomes an important factor in your life, your identity becomes clouded. Since drugs and alcohol cause intense and severe cravings, especially long-term, you could prioritize substances over everything else. Soon, your identity could become only drugs and alcohol.
An identity crisis is a period of mental fog, confusion, and uncertainty regarding understanding your identity. Identity crises usually happen during big transitions or because of intense stressors in life. Sometimes, you may experience an identity crisis first, which leads to substance use. Other times, substance use comes first, and the identity crisis happens due to your use.
Some factors of your identity are ones that you are born with and others become shaped through challenging or difficult life experiences. Although identity crises can seem overwhelming and scary, it can be great to have a fresh identity. One major benefit of recovery is that it allows you to start over. By learning and understanding your need for recovery, you are already building and establishing new boundaries for yourself.
Self-awareness is a key factor in being able to recognize unhealthy feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Recovery will give you numerous tools and resources to help you discover deeper parts of yourself, which will increase your sense of self-awareness. It will help you achieve resilience and sustain recovery because resilience enables you to persevere through adversity.
If you truly want to live healthily and be a better person for yourself and your family, it is essential that you recognize the importance of motivation. What is your motivation for recovery? If your only reason for recovery is that others forced you to do it, you will not experience success on your journey.
If your motivation for recovery is that you know you deserve to be healthy and not rely on substances to cope with stress, you will experience success. You have chosen to walk away from substances, and your purpose for recovery will fuel long-term success.
Here are some examples of ways to kickstart your recovery and self-discovery journey:
It may be helpful to understand and prepare that recovery is an uncomfortable experience, especially when it comes to rebuilding your identity. As you become a new version of yourself, of course, you will be nervous and perhaps uncomfortable. Remember that growth happens outside of your comfort zone.
Many people who go through the recovery process will feel periods of emptiness, numbers, and loss. Recovery means that you are actively choosing to give up a considerable part of your identity, being your addiction. It is time to acknowledge that you are more worthy and deserving of a life where your substance use does not determine your identity.
Part of recovery means accepting your past. If you continue to hold onto the past, you risk creating more challenges in recovery. Therefore, you must surrender to your recovery, your treatment experience, and your former self. You can reclaim your identity by reconnecting with the deepest parts of yourself. What were your interests and goals before using substances? What are your goals now that you are sober? By redefining yourself and your life, you will connect better with your thoughts and experiences.
At Clearfork Academy, we understand that identity evolves through a collection of experiences, behaviors, relationships, and qualities. Although self-discovery and forming a new identity can be uncomfortable, it is necessary for long-term recovery. Our effort is to help teenage males establish the foundational elements necessary to create a healthy identity. Our programs involve both conventional and holistic approaches that will motivate, inspire and educate teenagers on mental health and substance use disorders. We also work with the whole family. Our family programs allow parents and their teens the opportunity to communicate in healthier ways and work together to handle the challenges of addiction and addiction recovery. We believe that substance use rehabilitation requires more than just quitting a substance, but requires a change of heart. Of course, we remain a pillar of support should a teenager need help following treatment. For more information about our programs and resources, call us today at (817) 259-2597.
Originally from the Saginaw, Eagle Mountain area, Austin Davis earned a Bachelor of Science in Pastoral Ministry from Lee University in Cleveland, TN and a Master of Arts in Counseling from The Church of God Theological Seminary. He then went on to become a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor in the State of Texas.
Austin’s professional history includes both local church ministry and clinical counseling. At a young age, he began serving youth at the local church in various capacities which led to clinical training and education. Austin gained a vast knowledge of mental health disorders while working in state and public mental health hospitals. This is where he was exposed to almost every type of diagnosis and carries this experience into the daily treatment.
Austin’s longtime passion is Clearfork Academy, a christ-centered residential facility focused on mental health and substance abuse. He finds joy and fulfillment working with “difficult” clients that challenge his heart and clinical skill set. It is his hope and desire that each resident that passes through Clearfork Academy will be one step closer to their created design.
Austin’s greatest pleasures in life are being a husband to his wife, and a father to his growing children. He serves at his local church by playing guitar, speaking and helping with tech arts. Austin also enjoys being physically active, reading, woodworking, and music.