Finding Yourself: Uncovering Healthy Self-Identity in Recovery

Finding Yourself: Uncovering Healthy Self-Identity in Recovery

Substance use disorder (SUD) stigma can impact your sense of self. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), identity processes shape the manifestation of stigma in SUD. Specifically, internalized stigma is highly central to your self-concept as it erodes how you define and think about yourself. Believing in the negative stereotypes applied to you impairs healthy self-identity and sustained recovery. Thus, understanding healthy self-identity is invaluable to supporting physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being in recovery.

At Driftwood Recovery, we know how important rebuilding a connection to self and others is for healing. Through an attachment-based approach to recovery, you have learned how to foster healthy attachments to the self and others. However, your sense of attachment and healthy self-identity can get lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Moreover, being bombarded by stigma can erode your resilience to maintaining a healthy self-identity and attachment to yourself in recovery. Therefore, we are dedicated to providing an active alumni program built on connection and community. Through our peer-driven network, you can find support to help you maintain a healthy self-identity no matter where you are on your journey.

However, you may question what is a healthy self-identity. Expanding your knowledge of self-concept and identity can help you better understand how SUD has impaired your sense of self.

Understanding Self-Concept as Identity

Sometimes, self-concept and self-identity are confused with each other or used interchangeably. While they are connected, self-concept and self-identity are not the same. Self-concept is constructed from your beliefs about yourself. You hold beliefs about your behaviors, abilities, and characteristics and how others respond to you. Listed below are some of the parts that make up your self-concept:

  • Self-image: How you want to see yourself
    • Personality traits: Introvert vs. extrovert
    • The life roles you view as important: Being a parent
    • Hobbies: Being a fan of a sports team or fandom
    • Passions: A religious or political organization
  • Ideal self: The qualities you want to have or strive to have
    • I am confident vs. I am anxious
  • Self-esteem: How much you like, accept, and value yourself
    • How you feel about your interactions and place in the world
      • Your sense of purpose, how others see you, how you think you compare to others, and your role in society

Similarly, your self-identity encompasses your self-esteem, the roles you perform, and your social identity. Your self-identity is something you give yourself; it is the roles in life you believe define you. With self-identity, you build and prioritize certain ideas, beliefs, and values. Together, self-concept and identity help you answer who you are, what communities you belong to, and how you fit into those communities and society.

Social Identities: Exploring Addiction and Recovery Identities

A better understanding of self-concept and identity gives you insight into the importance of a healthy self-identity in recovery. Your self-identity is not inherently static, as it can change with the experiences and interactions you have. For example, difficulties with SUD expose you to negative thinking patterns born from stigma like substance-first language. You may identify yourself as an alcoholic, addict, user, or weak, which creates a mindset in which you see yourself only as those negative things.

Public, self, and structural stigma contributes to isolating you from yourself and others. With isolation, your self-esteem, self-worth, and motivation to maintain your recovery are impaired. Thus, the interactions and relationships you form with others influence how you think about yourself. As noted in BMJ Open, social identity gives you a sense of who you are based on the groups you associate with. When you have the opportunity to engage with a social network of your peers in recovery, it helps reinforce building and sustaining a recovery self-identity.

The Value of Healthy Self-Identity for Sustained Recovery

A greater understanding of the importance of social identities in peer support for recovery also showcases how healthy self-identity supports positive self-beliefs for well-being. With access to healthy connections, you can move from substance-first to person-first language to foster healthy self-identity and reintegration into the larger community. Moreover, a healthy self-identity can support your well-being as a whole person, from staying motivated in recovery to pursuing life goals for fulfillment and purpose. Listed below are some of the other ways a healthy self-identity can support recovery:

  • Mental: Supports life satisfaction, balance, and psychological resilience
  • Emotional: Supports adaptive coping with life stressors
  • Social: Supports mutually supportive interpersonal relationships
  • Spiritual: Empowers personal values and beliefs for your sense of purpose
  • Physical: Empowers you to care for your body in strength, nutrition, activity, and hygiene
  • Environmental: Supports finding self and healing in nature

The benefits of a healthy self-identity highlight the importance of self for whole-person healing. Thus, you are reminded that recovery does not begin and end with treatment. The tools you learned in treatment, much like self-identity, are not static. You must continue to practice and build various adaptive coping strategies in your daily life.

Ways to Build Healthy Self-Identity

Although it may seem daunting, you can build a healthy self-identity to thrive in recovery. Some of the ways you can build a healthy self-identity include:

  • Mindfulness
  • Positive thinking with affirmations
  • Challenge negative thinking
  • Self-reflection
  • Affirm your strengths
  • Foster mutually supportive relationships

Building a healthy self-identity does not happen overnight, but with practice and support, you can support your well-being as a whole person.

Uncovering Healthy Self-Identity With Alumni Support at Driftwood Recovery

At Driftwood Recovery, our Driftwood Alumni strength is built in our dedication to connection and community. We know how important connection and community integration are to fostering a healthy self-identity and sustaining recovery. Thus, we are committed to providing a vibrant peer-driven network in which you can repair or discover your social identity and sense of self. With access to long-term resources and services like weekly meetings and the recovery app, you can connect to the self and others to lead a courageous life in recovery.

The impact of public, structural, and internalized stigma from SUD can lead to an addiction identity. With an addiction identity, you develop negative self-beliefs about yourself. Negative self-beliefs can impede recovery as they erode your self-esteem, self-worth, and motivation to maintain your sobriety. However, you can move from an addiction identity to a recovery identity by building a healthy self-identity through connection and community. With peer support in recovery, you can repair your social identity and foster positive self-beliefs to heal beyond treatment. Therefore, at Driftwood Recovery, we are dedicated to providing a strong community-driven peer network in our alumni program to provide long-term access to resources and services for whole-person healing. Call us at (512) 759-8330 today.