I didn’t dream of having substance use disorder as a child—that was hardly a sign of self-actualization. I had no idea what I wanted to be because I lacked identity my whole life. Throughout my childhood, I suffered depression, hopelessly lonely and desperate to connect—but not wanting to be with people. As I felt lost in the world, I self-medicated my way to addiction.
Prove That You Can Beat Addiction
Addiction isn’t something anyone seeks to attain. And yet, it became the making of me. Sinking to those depths of despair, removing any semblance of sanity, and discarding all the material possessions of life became a paradox: it broke me and provided a clean slate from the start. Most noteworthy, It was from that place that I found recovery.
Breaking yourself in that way—physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally—gives you no choice but to rebuild from the inside out. I had it the wrong way my entire life; I thought life was about attaining status and material possessions—a degree, a car, a career, a home, a husband, children. It never occurred to me that the most exceptional richness in life comes from the wealth found in self-esteem, emotional intelligence, self-worth, self-confidence, coping skills, the ability to set and enforce healthy boundaries. Not least, the ability to be present for life and be able to weather its trials, tribulations, and stressors.
5 Ways Addiction Treatment Saved My Life
Admitting you have an addiction is difficult for many individuals battling with drug or substance abuse disorder. Reaching out for help and finding rehab programs is even more challenging. However, as someone who is proof that you can reach recovery, below are here are five ways addiction treatment saved my life:
1. Gained Identity
I was internally bereft until I found recovery—and that is why it was the best thing that happened to me. I learned identity in these ways: My entire life I’d spent as a chameleon—changing and adapting to fit in my environment. My likes, dislikes, tastes, desires all changed depending on social circles. As a result, I went through lots of stages—from goth to football outfits. I clung on to each identity until the next came along. It was only in recovery that I honestly found out who I was. Through therapy and step work, I discovered my values, found my intuition, realized my talents, picked clothes that I like—rather than what my friends see trendy—and found my passions and interests.
2. Developed Self-Worth
I could do anything. I have a thirst for life that I’d never imagined. That developed my self-belief and self-worth. I want to experience everything, therefore I say yes to new adventures and experiences, and I dare to dream big. From that standing, I relocated to America with nothing and started a successful business as a full-time writer and health coach.
I learned how to parent myself. All my life, I only ever wanted someone to tell me that I was enough and that everything would be okay. Without my trusted anesthesia, I realized just how riddled with fear I was—I was frightened by everything from going to the dentist, to dealing with any official. I now protect and show up for myself so that I can cope with that fear without using.
4. Learned to Say No
I realized it was okay to say no. I’d spent my whole life feeling obliged to go to events I didn’t want to, family gatherings, having to explain my decisions and life choices to my family and friends, and overcommitting myself. I did this well into sobriety until I worked on co-dependency and realized I could not set healthy boundaries. It was okay to say no and, as a grown woman, I do not need to explain any of my decisions to anyone. Now, I ask myself if it feels right before saying yes, and if I do say yes—am I doing it to please others. This development has been the most profound in my recovery.
5. Coping with Life's Stressors
I learned how to deal with life’s stressors. It was my inability to cope with life, unresolved trauma, and mental illness, that led to substance use disorder for me. Through therapy, I uncovered and processed my trauma. I sought professional help to turn mental illness to mental health and learned on-going strategies to cope. And I found affecting coping strategies for life stresses that give me the relief that I was seeking in drugs and alcohol. My comfort comes processing stress through writing, yoga, eating well, regular exercise, support groups, and therapy.
Finally, I’ve become the inspirational women I've always desired. Above all, I can confidently say that I'm happy and proud to be who I am—recovery has given me that.
About the Author
Writer and wellness advocate, Olivia Pennelle (Liv), is in long-term recovery. Liv passionately believes in a fluid and holistic approach to recovery. Her popular site Liv’s Recovery Kitchen is a resource for the journey toward health and wellness in recovery. For Liv, the kitchen represents the heart of the home: to eat, share, and love. You will find Liv featured amongst top recovery writers and bloggers, published on websites such as: Recovery.Org, The Fix, Intervene, Workit Health, iExhale, Sapling, Addiction Unscripted, Transformation is Real, Sanford House, Winward Way & Casa Capri.