Those in early recovery have taken a monumental step towards a better way of life. Leaving a life of addiction behind is one of the best decisions an individual can make, and their lives are certainly better in recovery. However, a strange phenomenon can occur in recovery that causes a person to miss, or grieve over, their prior addictions.
It is understandable that a person very early in recovery might feel this way. They are newly sober, and have yet to truly experience a life of recovery. This line of thinking can also be present to those further along the recovery path. Why would a person that has experienced a better way of life grieve over an inferior way of life?
The primary reason is that recovery is real. The life of addiction is many times romanticized, and the good parts of the old life are highlighted while the bad parts are forgotten. “Freedom” is replaced by responsibility, and old memories are skewed and thought of as better than they really were. Using buddies are remembered as loyal friends, drug seeking as adventures, and day-to-day life as carefree.
Individuals, deep down, are aware these thoughts weren’t the reality in addiction. If they were brutally honest, they’d say the “freedom” was the exact opposite, using buddies took advantage of them, drug seeking stole time from their lives, and life was anything but carefree. Addicts are aware of the realities of their addictions, but chose to entertain a false truth from time to time.
Allowing the thought process to go down this road can be deadly or beneficial, depending on the type of support system the individual has in their lives. If the correct support is there, this line of thinking can be analyzed to discover why it’s entertained in the first place. This can be an extremely beneficial exercise, and reveal much about a person’s makeup. Without the correct support system, the person may never be pulled back to a healthy way of thinking. They may venture so far into the fantasy that they chose to pursue the old way of life and relapse.
Having a proper support system is of the utmost importance in all stages of recovery. These fantasy thoughts are typical, and having others around you to talk truth is vital. A residential treatment center is appropriate for those brand new to recovery. These thoughts can occur more frequently in early recovery, and a greater level of support is needed. The appropriate level of support never tapers off, it simply changes. Outpatient or Aftercare services are appropriate after treatment, and a presence in the recovery community will be appropriate the rest of your life. The further you go down the recovery path, the more you are able to provide the support you need for yourself. You will become able to bring yourself back to reality, and know to seek help when you can’t. Eventually the script will be flipped, and you will help teach others of the realities of their addictions.
Harmony Foundation provides the recovery support needed during treatment, and for the rest of your life. The road to recovery begins here.