Everyone has a story to tell. Many people are unaware of how empowering and motivating it can be to share their stories with others. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Sharing stories is a way to connect with people and inspire others who may be struggling with behavioral health conditions . . . Your story can also demonstrate that treatment works and recovery is possible.” West Coast Recovery Centers encourages clients to share their stories during treatment and long-term recovery.
Telling Your Story Empowers Healthy Changes
Describing out loud thoughts about addictive behaviors, recovery, and personal beliefs makes it easier for people to reframe how they think about sobriety. People are often more likely to follow through with essential lifestyle changes if they share their stories with others in the recovery community. Moreover, discussing the desire to maintain sobriety increases accountability and reduces social isolation.
Individuals in recovery are faced with many challenges, and telling their stories may help some individuals make better choices by doing the following:
- Providing motivation
- Improving self-confidence and self-awareness
- Reducing feelings of loneliness
No two people have the same recovery experience. Sharing a new perspective may help someone else recognize areas where they can improve. Communicating stories with peers and individuals who want to achieve sobriety strengthens the recovery community. People can share small parts of their journey or every step of their recovery. No matter how much a person chooses to share, it can inspire significant positive changes in themselves and others. According to the previously mentioned article by SAMHSA, “When you share your recovery journey and how your recovery has impacted those around you, you show people they are not alone.”
Healing Through Storytelling
Storytelling has been a part of medical healing for thousands of years. In the last few decades, narrative interventions and other therapeutic methodologies have taken advantage of the transformative nature of storytelling to help clients better understand their condition. According to Healthcare, “Storytelling is a relational intervention that has been used to help patients make sense of their illness experiences and to share their experiences with others, including other patients, families and healthcare providers.”
Storytelling helps people heal by doing the following:
- Making it easier to process thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
- Validating the ideas, beliefs, and experiences of people in recovery
- Creating a space for healthy self-reflection
- Empowering peers and encouraging empathy
- Providing hope to people in early recovery
Storytelling also improves communication skills and helps clients practice setting boundaries with others. Clients get to choose how much they share and when. Taking control of this aspect of their recovery often increases self-confidence and self-accountability. West Coast Recovery Centers provides clients with a space to share their stories with peers, loved ones, and the clinical team.
The Power of Vulnerability
Sharing personal stories leaves people feeling vulnerable. However, there is great power in vulnerability. Without being willing to share those experiences, people may never heal and grow. Storytelling is an excellent way to connect authentically with others in the recovery community. The vulnerability allows people to validate how they feel about their diagnosis and circumstances. Openly expressing struggles and successes makes it easier for people to see the connections between their thoughts and behaviors.
Your Story Can Positively Influence Others in Recovery
Everyone has a voice and the ability to positively influence others in recovery. In addition, storytelling causes a chemical change in the brains of people who share and listen to them. According to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), “The act of telling stories has been shown to be a central element for establishing human connections and influencing subjective emotions in both the storyteller and the audience.” In addition, storytelling “can help reconfigure the way people . . . integrate emotions, experience, and meaning toward a purposeful and meaningful view of life during challenging moments.”
Storytelling creates a positive influence by doing the following:
- Reducing stigmas, misinformation, and misunderstandings surrounding substance abuse and recovery
- Providing a sense of emotional release and catharsis
- Encouraging personal growth
- Increasing trust between peers in recovery
People in recovery can share their stories in person, through writing, or using digital storytelling methods. Everyone has different preferences and all forms of storytelling have the potential to positively influence others in recovery.
Telling Your Story In-Person or Online
Digital storytelling using video blogs (vlogs), audio recordings, blogs, or interactive webpages has provided people with a wide range of creative methods for sharing their stories. According to SAMHSA, “Digital storytelling is something anyone can do no matter what level of experience they have telling stories or using technology.” Using digital formats to share personal stories allows people to be more creative in expressing themselves. “In sharing their own messages of healing, storytellers can support the recovery and healing of others.” West Coast Recovery Centers makes it easy for clients to share their stories in whatever medium makes them feel most comfortable. Group therapy and other activities allow clients to share their recovery journey.
Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of self-expression. Cave paintings from tens of thousands of years ago tell stories of how people lived. We still use storytelling today to share our struggles, successes, feelings, beliefs, and concerns. People recovering from substance abuse benefit from sharing their stories with peers, clinicians, family members, friends, and people who have an interest in achieving sobriety. Every voice has worth, and people deserve the opportunity to share it with others. West Coast Recovery Centers gives clients the tools to share their stories with others. Celebrating successes and sharing challenges inspires people to maintain sobriety. To learn more about our programs and the services we offer, call our office today at (760) 492-6509.