Many people new to recovery show up to detox or treatment with reservations. You may feel nervous, angry, or alone in your first days of recovery. “Do I belong in recovery?” is a question that you might ask yourself when you start to focus on the differences between yourself and other people in recovery. This reservation — believing that you’re not like everyone else — is a way your mind can trick you into relapse. This trick is why comparing insides, not outsides, is vital in recovery.
If you used substances and continued to use them despite adverse consequences, you belong. Anyone who has trouble controlling their use of substances is welcome in recovery.
“Othering” Will Hold You Back From Growth
Addiction does not discriminate; people from all walks of life can end up with a substance use disorder. That may mean that when you’re in a therapy group or 12-step room, the people in the room with you may not look like you. They may wear different clothes, have different skin colors, be other genders, etc. Diversity is beautiful, but you may not be thinking of that when your mind is trying to trick you into using. Instead, you may start to believe you don’t belong.
“Othering” people is a way to discriminate and shut down from listening when you’re in a group setting. But humans are more than their clothing, the way they talk, the money they have or their origins. You may think because a person comes from a different background, they have no experience to offer you. You’re unique, special, and nobody quite understands you. It can be easy to say, “I’m not like the others” when you’re looking for an excuse to relapse.
Your brain may tell you that if you’re not like everyone else, then maybe your addiction isn’t like theirs, either. This is a blatant lie that can set you up for relapse.
Comparing Inside, Not Outsides
Addiction has the same symptoms (a burning desire to get high or drunk, and an inability to control your substance use) for everyone. Recovery, therefore, is for anyone willing to put in the work to stay sober.
When you’re at a meeting or in a group and feel like you don’t belong, it’s time to close your eyes and listen. Much of your early time in recovery will probably be spent listening. When you listen, you’re not paying attention to what a person looks like. You’re listening for feelings, which are things in common for all human beings.
Listening to Others
Addiction is a disease that involves feelings and compulsion. You may hear stories of pain and failure, triumph, and peace – there are so many aspects of addiction and recovery that newcomers need to hear and understand. You’ll probably hear some stories of addiction you can relate to – but you’ll also get the chance to listen to stories of recovery that you can hope for, too.
Start listening to people and stop looking for ways to “other” them. If it means closing your eyes for the first few months, you’re sober, so be it. It’s important to realize that you’re all human beings in this together – and sometimes the only way to listen is to stop comparing your outsides, and start listening to what people are feeling and experiencing on the insides.
Getting and Staying Sober
Everyone starts somewhere in recovery. You probably have questions about how to get the help you need or whether it’s available during the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is YES, we are here for you and ready to help. Pick up the phone and call us at 619-363-4767.