Recovery is a word that we hear a lot, but many of us do not really know what is involved in the recovery process. Likely, we understand that we must go through detox in order to stop our substance use, but beyond that, many have a limited understanding of what happens in treatment or how we are able to stay on our recovery path. For example, how does therapy help in our recovery?
Recovery Is All in Our Heads
Well, recovery is not exactly all in our heads, but if we understand the neurobiology of substance use, we understand that the physiological source is actually in our brains. The use of substances actually rewires the pathway associated with reward in our brain to demand more and more of the substance or substances we are using. Although this is a physiological function, treating this involves using various methods, including therapy.
Therapy can help us to retrain our minds to resist using substances. We can learn how to urge surf our cravings, for example, or ride out the craving instead of reacting to it. Understanding where our need for substances comes from can also help us to feel less need for those substances.
The Scars of Life
Often, our compelling urges to use substances originates from past pain, loss, abuse, or other trauma. This is where therapy is truly needed in order to promote healing. We can use different methods of therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT.) There are also therapeutic techniques such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR,) which are particularly helpful in healing past trauma. Good treatment facilities and therapies offer a range of therapeutic techniques in order for us to find the methods which help us the most.
Addressing our past pain and scars allows us to heal from those wounds, whether they are from childhood or very recent. As we heal, the need to escape or numb with substances diminishes or can even disappear altogether. Therapy goes to the root of our substance use and promotes healing from there, which allows for more complete and lasting healing.
The Scars of Substance Use
We may also have scars from our time spent using substances. There is often shame, remorse, regret, and guilt. Much of this pain is self-inflicted, as we have created these ideas about our behaviors. Some may be inflicted from outside sources, put on us from family, friends, people at work, or others. No matter the source, it all hurts.
Therapy can help us to release all of this pain and emotion around our behaviors. We can learn to accept ourselves for who we are, rather than placing these emotions around ourselves or our behaviors. Going forward, we can learn to be non-judgmental with ourselves, too.
Learning New Ways of Thinking
There are a lot more habits than just using substances. We also carry with us habits of thinking that were not helpful to us. Our minds were trained to make judgments about everything, including ourselves. We learned to react emotionally to people and events in our lives, instead of simply seeing them as is.
This type of thinking creates excess emotional baggage and fuels patterns of thinking that in turn fuel our need for substances. However, with therapy, we can learn new ways of thinking and reacting. We can learn stress management. Utilizing the tools that we learn in therapy, we can change our old habits and significantly lower our need for substances by replacing those habits with new ways of thinking.
Usually, our self-esteem is also greatly impacted by substance use. Therapy can help us to learn to accept ourselves and love ourselves again. We can learn to look at ourselves without judgment and to acknowledge the good in ourselves. Learning to believe in ourselves again is another key component of our recovery, because believing in ourselves fuels our desire to be well.
Learning to Communicate More Effectively
So many people struggle with communication, and we are likely numbered among those people. Substance use interferes with a lot of healthy mental development, including effective communication skills. Luckily, therapy is very effective in learning and developing new skills that help us to more effectively communicate in our lives. We can learn to set healthy boundaries, we can learn how to better advocate for ourselves. We can learn to set aside emotions and knee-jerk responses to be able to speak clearly and calmly, even in emotionally intense situations. Therapy can increase our knowledge and give us skills that will help us in all of our relationships.
How does therapy help in our recovery? Therapy can help heal our minds, heal our scars, help us learn new ways of thinking, repair our self-esteem, and learn to communicate more effectively. The therapy that we do in treatment can change our lives. Not only can we overcome our substance use, but we can become whole again and improve ourselves in all areas of our lives. Therapy is the work we do when we commit to healing. Therapy is the glue of our recovery.
Find out how therapy can help you in your recovery. Call AToN Center today at (888) 535-1516. We offer many different types of therapy to help you heal and learn new ways of thinking. Let us guide you on your recovery path with life-changing therapy.