03 Dec The Process of Healing and Recovery
Throughout your recovery journey, you may have to reopen old wounds to process and understand them. Talking about your traumas and their effects on you and learning tools to manage your substance use symptoms will create a framework for building a healthy, sober life.
Throughout your recovery journey, you may have experienced or caused hardships. Healing from traumatic wounds is a part of the recovery process. While treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) has helped many people live successful, healthy, and happy lives, treatment will not fix you. There is no magic wand that will patch up all your wounds and bruises. Sixty days of treatment is not a permanent solution to your SUD. You will always be on a recovery journey as life throws curve balls at you, and you will have to maintain your sobriety with the tools and techniques that you’ve learned from your mental health professionals.
It’s About the Journey
Healing from emotional trauma is a lifelong journey. Emotional wounds can heal, but there will always be a mark leftover from the emotional turmoil. Traumatic life events will shape the type of person you are, but you can turn a negative traumatic experience into a source of growth. Treatment will give you the tools you need to help you through the most challenging parts of your journey. However, you still have to be able to utilize those tools to make it out on the other side.
Healing is a slow process because it takes time to distance yourself from negative thoughts and objectively think about your traumatic experiences. Also, as you go through different phases of life, your trauma may affect you differently. You want to be able to process traumatic events in a way that helps you understand your emotions surrounding the traumatic event.
The process of healing may be uncomfortable at first. It might require you to think about difficult situations or events in your past and your future. It will require you to make new habits that will replace old ones. Healing takes change, and change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s essential to be patient with yourself and acknowledge the smaller steps in your healing process. However, it’s also important to put in the necessary emotional work and recognize that the process of healing and recovery doesn’t stop once your treatment ends.
How People Heal
Part of your recovery process may include mending relationship wounds. While opening up to a close friend or relative may help you heal, you also must consider the other person’s healing process. The person may have to heal because of events caused by your SUD.
The steps of healing may be different for everyone. As a rule of thumb, healing has been organized into five stages, much like grief. However, some people may skip steps, add steps, or have an entirely different process altogether. The typical stages of healing include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
People in your life may process trauma at a different rate from you and one another. Some people in your life may be more willing to make amends depending on where they are in their own healing process. While some people are willing to talk about their trauma, others are not, so it is important to respect whatever decision a person makes in regards to sharing. There are a number of techniques and activities that promote healing, so if you are struggling to heal the wounds in your relationships, talk to a mental health professional about tools you can use that can help you heal.
Caring About Aftercare
When you go to physical therapy to strengthen your muscles caused by an injury, you still need to practice those exercises to keep your muscles strong once the physical therapy treatment ends. Substance use is the same; your work is not over when treatment ends. Treatment is only a jumpstart to your recovery journey. You need to continue to seek to grow your support network, learn new tools for emotional management, and strive to change your habits and routines. Post-rehab, you should continue to see a mental health professional and participate in outpatient treatment.
Even when you feel good about yourself and where you are in your life, continuing to practice emotional management with a mental health professional will strengthen your emotional management skills for when you may need them. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Self-management and Recovery Training (SMART) can help you build your support network and allow you to continue participating in the recovery community.
Aftercare can also include sober living housing where you live in a community with other people who are also going through the recovery process. Living in a community surrounded by people who may share similar experiences will give you immediate access to a support network while you learn the necessary skills to live independently outside of the sober living community.