Millions of people struggle with substance abuse and addiction each year. SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that in 2012, around 22.2 million people ages 12 and over were dealing with some form of substance abuse or addiction. Most of these people didn’t receive any form of treatment for their abuse or addiction. In fact, the NSDUH reports that only 2.5 million people ages 12 and over received any kind of substance abuse treatment at a specialty center in 2012. The reasons behind deciding to get help with substance abuse and addiction are complex, but one major factor is self-awareness. This state of mind helps a person not only in his decision to begin treatment, but also throughout the entire recovery process.
What is Self-Awareness?
Self-awareness occurs when a person understands herself and why she thinks, feels and behaves in specific ways. It is the opposite of denial, which occurs when a person ignores or avoids difficult and problematic thoughts, feelings and behaviors in her life. Moving past denial and into a state of healthy self-awareness is not easy, but as Leslie Becker-Phelps explains, it is an essential component of any type of effective self-improvement. She also lists the following aspects of awareness that a person should focus on:
- Emotions: learning to identify and label emotions as specifically as possible can help a person become more aware of what they are feeling in a given situation.
- Patterns: any events, feelings, thoughts or sensations that occur repeatedly should be analyzed and addressed in order to help the person understand the reasons behind why she feels and acts in certain ways.
- Sensations: anything that a person feels physically should be assessed in relation to the person’s other issues so that she can better understand how her body physically reacts to events, feelings and thoughts.
- Thoughts: the person needs to identify what goes through her mind, which ideas and beliefs control her thoughts and how her inner monologue influences her emotions and behaviors.
Mindfulness and the Recovery Process
Mindfulness is another important aspect of recovery that is related to self-awareness. It’s a state of mind in which the person focuses on the present moment and tries to understand what is going on inside of and around her right now. David Sack states that practicing mindfulness helps a person learn how to pay attention to her thoughts and feelings without trying to change, judge or fix them. He goes on to explain several ways that mindfulness is the opposite of addiction:
- Mindfulness focuses on difficult thoughts and feelings, while addiction tries to avoid them
- It places attention on what the person has right now, while addiction seeks after what seems to be missing
- It emphasizes honesty instead of denial and lying
With both self-awareness and mindfulness, a person struggling with substance abuse or addiction can learn how to understand and accept herself, which are both necessary for a full recovery. A person should grow healthier physically and psychologically while in recovery, and practicing self-awareness and mindfulness helps achieve both kinds of health.
Find Out More About Self-Awareness and Recovery
Gaining self-awareness isn’t always easy, but it is necessary for a person who wants to live a healthy life free from substance abuse and addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction and wondering how self-awareness can help your recovery, please give us a call at 615-490-9376. Our admissions coordinators can help you find a quality treatment center that will best suit your individual recovery needs.