Building a New Identity in Sobriety

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As you go through recovery, one of the aspects you may find it harder to talk about or even put into words is the identity change that accompanies most people’s experiences. Though you may have become accustomed to the identity you developed and knew for the duration of your addiction, that identity will gradually melt away as you make changes in your life. As you follow a new walk of life that includes sober friends, healthy coping mechanisms, and an overall positive outlook, you’ll start to view yourself differently. Your focus will begin to shift towards continuing to improve your sobriety. Throughout your journey to improve your well-being, you can start to build a healthy relationship with yourself, leading to a lifestyle of self-love and forgiveness.

Addiction can consume your identity to the point that when you do transition to a sober lifestyle, you may realize that the person you once were no longer exists. The relationships that you associated yourself with may no longer exist or may take on a whole different perspective. Recovery is not an easy process: it’s made up of big changes that affect every aspect of your life, and it can be uncomfortable and disorienting. A successful recovery depends upon the hard work of making it through this process. With patience and strength, you can rise to meet the challenge of finding and creating your new identity. Not only is it possible, but when you pursue healthy self-discovery, you can discover worlds of exuberant positivity in ways you might have only dreamed possible.

What Is Identity?

Before we dive into the useful tools that we recommend for making this transition, it is important to discuss what we mean by identity. A person’s identity is formed through experiences, memories, relationships, and values. The American Psychological Association defines identity as a set of physical, psychological, and interpersonal characteristics that are unique to you. Your identity can have a range of affiliations, including your ethnicity and social roles. The idea of one’s identity involves a sense of continuity; who you are today is the same person you were yesterday. Is it possible for our identity to change tomorrow? Absolutely. This is exactly how we grow as humans. Our identity grows with us as we encounter new obstacles, meet new people, and have new experiences. When you go through the transition from a life controlled by addiction to a life of health and sobriety, you will absolutely experience a shift or growth in your identity.  

How Can I Reform My Identity After Addiction?

The road to recovery is paved with ups and downs. As you can tell, this new journey you are on is not easy, but its benefits are worth every obstacle. When people leave addiction treatment, they often struggle to know who they are. This is a huge challenge for many people; you are not alone. On top of everything you are working through, finding a sense of self after addiction seems stressful and uncomfortable. Most people do not even know where to start, causing feelings of embarrassment or vulnerability. Let yourself feel these feelings because they are a normal part of the process. 

Once you have acknowledged and accepted these feelings, it’s time to decide who you would like to become. Figuring this out can take time, so do not expect to have all the answers right away. Give yourself time to answer this question as you maneuver through your new sober life. Be realistic, too – you’re tackling these issues from a place of newfound vulnerability, and adding unrealistic expectations can only create stress. Think about hobbies that you once loved and which took a halt due to your addiction. You can now focus on becoming a better parent, spouse, or friend. Many people choose to focus on developing a healthier physical lifestyle that can include exercising, yoga, meditation, and countless other possibilities. Take up voice lessons, read some books, or volunteer at a local animal shelter. Find things you enjoy doing that give you a sense of purpose.

This Is Your Chance

You have created a clean slate for yourself, and you do not have to limit yourself to any particular labels. The quest to define yourself anew will be ever-evolving, as there are nearly infinite options and avenues for you to pursue. Most importantly, remember that you are more than your addiction. Sometimes people cling to the idea that they lost their identity due to addiction. You are on a journey to reclaim your identity. Stayed focused on everything that you will continue to gain through recovery, including the new fresh identity that you get to develop. This is your chance to move beyond addiction and become who you want to be.

Developing your new identity can feel overwhelming, especially in the beginning stages of your sobriety, but your opportunities are endless. There are so many things that you once loved before your addiction consumed your existence – passions and hobbies that brought you excitement. Now is the time to continue that love for reading, sports, or hiking. You have a new chance to create an identity that is healthy and fun. This clean slate gives you unlimited possibilities to reinvent yourself, starting by remembering who you once were before your addiction. During your journey to develop a new identity, you can reconnect with friendships that were once cut off, or work on healing relationships with your children or spouse. Although these times can feel uncomfortable and stressful, you are not alone in your journey towards a better you. Everlast Recovery Centers can help you continue to heal and to establish a new, healthy identity. Call us at 866-DETOX-25 to learn more.

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