Rebuilding A Life After Addiction: Assessing And Fulfilling Your Needs
April 7th, 2016
Addiction has a way of pulling your attention away from your basic needs and making it harder for you to succeed in life. It’s a sad truth that I’ve seen happen to so many people over the years. These are good people with good brains and real potential, but addiction takes over and they can only focus on that aspect of their life.
Thankfully I’ve seen most, if not all, of those people fight back from the clutches of addiction and regain a life of sobriety. And they did it by filling their basic human needs. As humans, we all have the same basic wants and desires and understanding how to fill them is crucial in recovery success.
The Structure Of Our Basic Needs
Our basic needs are broken down into six basic levels which are known as “Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs.” While this model isn’t flawless, it does give you a strong idea of the ways people move through life and what you need to do in order to achieve a life free from addiction:
- Physiological – These are the basic needs for survival, items you absolutely cannot live without. For example, air, water, food, clothing, and shelter are all considered basic physiological needs.
- Safety – Once you have the basic proponents of survival, personal safety and security must be ensured. This includes personal safety, financial security, and protection from health problems.
- Love – Love, friendship and family must then be obtained in this powerful need. Without it, we feel lost and alienated, due to our instinctive need for grouping and interaction.
- Esteem – Esteem includes both boosting feelings of self-esteem and earning respect from your peers, and your elder. It also includes building a sense of personal glory and accomplishment.
- Actualization – People with high levels of esteem then work on actualizing their potential and their life dreams and making an impact on the world. Many, but not all, people reach this step.
- Transcendence – Though not strictly necessary for everyone, transcendence is crucial for many. It is the step in which a person reaches out towards a higher sense of being. For many, this takes the form of religion, though others dedicate themselves to volunteering or political work.
A successful recovery from addiction goes through each step in this process and helps ensure that these basic needs are met and that you are happy and safe. From here, I’m going to go through each basic need and give you tips and suggestions on how to meet these needs during your recovery.
Boosting Your Physiological Health
If you’re currently suffering from the impact of addiction, you’re also undoubtedly suffering from a series of physical health concerns. For example, you’re probably malnourished, in pain, and have poor oral health and personal hygiene. This isn’t meant to mock you, but to point out how damaging addiction is to your physical health.
And these health problems make it hard to move through a successful recovery, but thankfully, a drug rehab center can help you by performing the following processes:
- Detoxifying your body from harmful substances
- Finding a dietitian to implement a new recovery diet
- Managing your physical pain with physical therapy
- Giving you a dental check up and repairing your teeth
- Providing you with an exercise routine to increase your physical fitness
Ensuring Your Safety
Drug use puts your safety and security at risk in many ways. For example, it exposes you to the dangers of drug culture. Often, people in this culture have violent impulses. On a more basic level, your addiction may have caused you to lose your home.
Nobody deserves to be stuck in a situation like this, including people who are trying to recover from a serious and life-threatening disease. Thankfully, most rehab centers will work hard to ensure your personal safety by performing a few simple steps:
- Getting you into temporary housing (such as a halfway or three-quarter way home)
- Isolating you from access to dangerous people and situations
- Helping you find a job (to ensure financial security)
- Giving you a good reference when it comes time to find a more permanent home
Creating A Loving Atmosphere
Now that you’re safe, it’s time to build a loving atmosphere. While a rehab center can help by setting up family counseling and a few other steps, you need to perform most of the rest of these steps on your own. While this may feel scary or imposing, it’s actually liberating.
Successfully making amends with your loved ones helps create a loving and supporting atmosphere that can treat your emotional and psychological problems in a natural way. It can also increase your self-esteem and self-reliance, making the next steps in the process that much easier.
If this step sounds scary, never fear! I’m going to give you a few suggestions to streamline this process and make it easier for you to make amends with your loved ones:
- Reach out to anyone you feel you’ve hurt in the past
- Confess your guilt and express a sincere desire to mend relationships
- Follow through with any promises and plans you make
- Actively support their lives and create a sense of positivity
- Ask them for help if you truly need it
The last step may seem counter-intuitive, but people actually love being asked for help because it makes them feel wanted and useful. You can also contact people you met during rehab to build a support community with people who are going through the same recovery process.
Increasing Your Esteem
Now that you feel loved, you can start improving your esteem by focusing on a sober life and dedicating yourself to recovery. This is a tricky step and relapse is common here because esteem can be so hard to achieve.
It has two aspects (self-esteem and respect) that must be balanced and maintained. The best way to achieve self-esteem is to follow this process:
- Focus on your job and career
- Calmly remind yourself that you’re a good and worthwhile person
- Succeeding in small, yet crucial, ways
- Building and maintaining loving friendships
As your self-esteem grows, you’ll find yourself repeatedly succeeding in life. This helps further boost your self-esteem and as a result, your interactions with loved ones will be more successful. By proxy, this will increase their respect of you and your life.
And don’t forget that getting respect requires behaving like a respectful person. This means showing dedication to your career, your sobriety, and treating others with the respect that they and you deserve.
Actualizing Your Success
After boosting your esteem to high levels, you’re likely feeling invincible. That’s the most amazing part of the recovery process: once you reach this point, your need for drugs should be at an all-time low. That doesn’t mean they aren’t on your mind, but you should have the strength to fight cravings.
As a result, you can focus on your career goals and start getting the success you deserve. With your improved sense of esteem and a clearer sense of what you can accomplish, you’re going to move up through life. You might even pick up a new artistic hobby to find new ways to express yourself.
But what happens when cravings suddenly hit you hard and fast? First of all, you need to assess the origin of these cravings. Did you suffer a minor or even serious setback that turned your mind to drug use? Or are you simply feeling an out-of-nowhere physical need? Or maybe your confidence has gotten so high that you think you can safely monitor and control your drug use.
Sadly, that’s not the case. After you have reached this step, you can’t let past addictions threaten to tear you back to square one. Here’s what you can do if cravings strike at this, or any step, of your recovery:
- Call up someone in your support group and talk to them about your craving
- Invite that sober friend over to help distract you from your need
- Go do something physical and distracting, like shooting hoops or golfing
- Eat some healthy foods and perform relaxation techniques (such as yoga)
- Write down a list of things that make you feel happy and blessed
Essentially, you are working to distract your mind from the intensity of the craving (which should peak and pass in no more than an hour or two) and re-dedicating yourself to a healthy lifestyle. Gaining this kind of self-awareness helps prepare you for the rigors of the final step.
Appealing To A Higher Power
If you are interested in achieving a state of transcendence, you need to identify your personal beliefs and find ways to implement them into your life. By now, you should have the esteem and the drive necessary to finish these goals. However, I have a few suggestions that can help get you started:
- Ask your personal God for forgiveness
- State your willingness to submit your life to a Higher Power
- Start practicing the beliefs inherent in your faith
- Attend religious services, if that is part of your faith
- Pray, meditate, and search for inner peace
- Live a mindful and self-aware life
The most beautiful part about this last step is that it can be achieved in any way you see fit. Religion and spirituality are highly personal and can be achieved in a myriad of ways.
So whether you feel it’s necessary to stick with a strict religious regiment or explore New Age sensibilities, you can achieve a higher state of being during recovery. Best of all: it should help forever beat the cravings that may pop up even as late as your actualization state.
Let Us Work With Your
If I made this process seem easy or simplistic, it’s important to recognize that it isn’t. It takes a lot of personal strength, dedication, and focus to finish. That doesn’t mean it’s beyond you: anyone going through the process of recovery can do this.
I truly believe that deep within the hearts and souls of every person lies a successful life, just waiting to burst out. So if you feel like you might need a little help getting through this process, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Spring2Life today.