Love is an essential component of life. It is beneficial in all domains of wellness. We are taught love through our parents, caregivers, and guardians when we are little, and learn to spread that love outward as we age. Love keeps us grounded in our relationships and reminds us to be appreciative of the little things.
This concept of love is probably not new to you, but if you have endured pain and hardship from addiction or mental health distress, love may not be a topic you consider frequently. As much as love is essential to our overall well-being, love is also a gamechanger when it comes to recovery. It fuels motivation and inspires us to achieve and maintain sobriety from addiction. In addition, it also encourages self-discovery for personal growth.
Explaining the Hardships of Recovery
Drug addiction is a complex experience that causes a user to lose control over their substance use. Addiction affects the brain by altering the brain’s reward circuitry, involved in identifying and craving pleasurable actions. Many other areas in the brain are also clouded with addiction, such as areas involved with critical thinking, problem-solving, and self-control. In active addiction, a user not only loses their sense of control, but also their sense of self.
Both addiction and certain mental health problems cause severe disconnections within one’s internal systems, not only in the brain but also in the body. Over time, prolonged feelings of disconnect can cause a person to shut themselves out of the outside world.
Feelings of guilt, shame, and regret are also commonly experienced by those that suffer from addiction. If a person does not know the difference between self-esteem and self-love, it is no surprise that they will continue to feel the distress from their past actions. Experiences of disconnection, isolation, and low self-esteem are all factors that continue the cycle of addiction.
Why Recovery Must Involve Love
Those that choose to go through substance use or mental health treatment are often at their wit’s end with their psychological distress. Perhaps their close family members and friends encouraged them to get treatment through love, or they decided that they needed to feel their own experience of self-love through healing. Regardless of how someone comes across treatment, they do so through the act of love in and of itself.
All effective treatment centers acknowledge the power of love in recovery. The word love is an umbrella term for other acts of kindness and care such as empathy, compassion, nonjudgement, acceptance, and even gratitude. In recovery, love can take on many forms. Common examples of acts of love shared during recovery may include:
- When a treatment professional fosters compassion towards you and your challenging life experiences
- When a peer congratulates you on a milestone you have made during treatment
- When you engage in positive affirmations for yourself at the start of your day
- When you reach a new record of days staying sober
- When you notice yourself replace a harmful habit with a healthy one
Love Teaches Self-Worth
Love is a necessary component of recovery because it initially teaches you self-worth. When we are at our lowest point, we may find ourselves relying on the validations, reassurances, and affirmations from others. Although this happens from time to time, we must learn to be able to rely on ourselves for feelings of worthiness, especially during recovery.
Understanding our self-worth comes easier when we are able to forgive ourselves for our past mistakes and acknowledge our ability to create a better future for ourselves. Luckily, recovery supplies us with the tools that they need to engage in self-discovery, crucial for recognizing self-worth.
Love in recovery teaches a person to admire themselves for their unique and subjective qualities. Recovery helps to identify strengths, acknowledge and work through weaknesses, and help to identify possible goals, passions, and purpose for life. Achieving long-lasting sobriety from substance use must not only focus on quitting self-destructive behavior, but also retrain the brain to believe that a person is worthy of a healthy and joyful life.
Love Communicates Purpose
Another factor that makes love a crucial element of recovery is that acts of love contribute to meaningful experiences of connection. As mentioned previously, love was the reason that brought you to treatment. Once you are able to acknowledge your self-worth and the power within you, you may find yourself being the inspiration for someone else getting the treatment that they need.
Love challenges the stigma of addiction by normalizing intimate and genuine conversations about mental health. Once you experience confiding in someone else for inspiration and empowerment, you will understand how significant it is to be the person that empowers others. Love sustains long-lasting recovery because it communicates that everyone is worthy and deserving of a life free from mental and addictive distress.
Love is an essential component of recovery. Especially when you are trying to achieve or sustain recovery, it is crucial that your treatment program recognizes the importance of self-worth. As feelings of guilt and shame often accompany mental health distress and addiction, learning how to live with love will help to combat these unpleasant feelings of unworthiness. West Coast Recovery Centers believes that everyone is worthy and deserving of having power and control over their lives. By making that first step to go through treatment, you are showing yourself the love that you deserve. Our treatment facility believes that individualized care, alongside love, is the key to achieving sustained recovery. We have built an intimate recovery community that values you as well as your time in treatment. We would love to guide you in your healing journey. For more information about the treatment options we offer, give us a call at (760) 492-6509.