Alcohol or drug addiction can impact a person’s life in many ways and stopping the use of the substance is only the first step. Afterwards, many people suffer from mental health issues. One common issue that addicts face is in their identity.
Addiction can become a part of a person’s identity. This is especially true for those who suffer from long-term substance use problems. This can affect a person’s entire perspective of themselves and the world.
Therapy may be useful for some people who are on their road to recovery from alcohol or drug issues. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help someone identify and address their negative thoughts. This may help to gain a new perspective on their identity without the use of drugs or alcohol. You can find a therapist online at BetterHelp who has substantial experience helping other people who suffer from substance use issues. In addition, you can also find resources on their website about mental health and substance use disorder.
How Drug and Alcohol Use Can Alter Identity
Identity is composed of many different elements including the way that you see yourself, the way that others see you, and your ideals. Whenever drugs or alcohol enter into the equation, there may be blurred the lines between your identity and your addiction. Drugs can also alter ideals and affect memory that may be components that contribute to your identity as a whole.
Identity crisis often appears when someone has a change in their life. This may be a change in their career, a marriage, a move to a new location, or the death of someone they love. These types of events can make someone confused about their role in society and make them question who they are at their core.
The recovery from alcohol or drug addiction is a large event that changes a person’s life as they know it. They may feel that they lost their identity and may have to construct a new one. An addict may even identify themselves as an addict even if they are not using anymore.
A person suffering form substance use disorder may find that their life and identity revolves or revolved around their addiction and use of substances. They may believe that being sober will make them a boring person. They may also find that they prioritize drinking or using other substances. This may cause them to feel like they cannot enjoy any activity unless there is a substance involved.
They may also feel like a part of their identity revolves around nonconformity. Some may even associate their identity with criminal activity. It is also common for addicts to believe that their substance use improves their creativity. This is common among musicians, writers, artists, and other creative people.
Recovery requires an addict to shed the identity that is associated with their drug or alcohol use. This may involve a construction of a new identity based on the things that have remained constant through a person’s life before and during their addiction. These may be ideals, interests, or behaviors. The change from an identity associated with addiction to one associated with recovery.
Self-Labeling and Social Groups
Self-labeling involves a person identifying themselves as a part of a group. This label will be associated with their internal identity and the way that they perceive themselves and the world. This label, which may be associated with a particular social group, may become the person’s answer to who they are.
When this happens, it may be said that their identity is addictive. In addition, the person’s behavior may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is because their label and identity are associated so closely to the use of drugs or alcohol.
Identity theory says that our sense of belonging to social groups and communities helps to determine our identity. Our concept of ourselves revolve around our place in society. An addict may have a view of what they believe the social group should be and conform to those beliefs and behaviors. At first, the behaviors associated with the social group may be deliberate, but over time they become automatic as they become ingrained into the person’s life and identity.
People who suffer from substance use disorder may even find that the drugs or alcohol bring a sense of belonging into their life. They may find that they have meaning or identity that they did not have before. This can help them improve their self-worth, but it may also contribute to worsened addiction.
Recovery and New Identity
If an addict associates their addiction with their identity, it is important that they construct a new identity as a component of their recovery. Some addicts find that being a member of a recovery or support group can help them to distance themselves from their identity and begin to develop a new one associated with abstinence.
It is important to surround yourself with people who can influence your sober and healthy identity. This can help you associate with members of a new social group that you can identify with. Other people in recovery can also provide an example of someone who has rebuilt their identity in a healthy way.
A lot of people find that their work is a source of identity because a career can provide meaning and purpose to life. As you begin to rebuild your life, it may be important to find work that is enjoyable or meaningful to you. This may take a lot of time, but small steps in the right direction may help you build your identity. This may mean that you get an entry level job in the industry that you want to build a career in.
You may also want to try to find a new hobby or interest or pick up one that you discarded while you were using substances. This can help you develop a unique identity that is free of the social group associated with your addiction.
Final Thoughts on Addiction and Identity
Addiction can cause an identity crisis that may make it harder to fully recover. This is because people who suffer from substance use disorder often create an identity that is related to their drug or alcohol use. However, it is possible to leave that identity behind and create a new one that is healthier. A mental health professional may be able to help you form new thought patterns and methods to form a new identity that you are comfortable with going forward. Doing so can help you stay sober long-term and reach your goals.
Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.