5 Unexpected Benefits of Addiction Treatment
Author: Kelly Fitzgerald
Many people enter addiction treatment without knowing what to expect. They may be at the end of their rope, in mental and physical pain, devoid of hope or the energy to make it another day. A common misconception about addiction treatment is that it serves only to rid the body of harmful substances. In reality, detoxification is only one part of addiction treatment. There is so much more to healing your mind, body, and spirit than to just stop drinking and using drugs. Addiction treatment serves countless purposes from teaching new coping mechanisms to helping people live without the crutch of alcohol and drugs. It paves the way for people in recovery to take their lives back. But what we don’t hear a lot about are the unexpected benefits of addiction treatment – things we might never guess would happen when someone is in residential treatment to get off drugs. Here are 5 of them.
1. Learning basic responsibilities
During our addiction, we can easily become lost. We might let simple responsibilities like paying the rent, paying for parking tickets, keeping our license and registration up to date, cleaning the house, or balancing the checkbook fall by the wayside. Perhaps we never knew how to do these simple tasks, or we had unhealthy ways of conducting everyday business. Maybe personal hygiene wasn’t at the top of our list, or buying what to most seem like essentials such as garbage bags seemed like luxuries or out of reach. In treatment, we can learn how to do these daily tasks. We learn how to effectively budget our time, how to spend money in a responsible way, and how to become accountable to ourselves, our family, and our friends. Understanding what basic responsibilities are, why they are important, and how to manage time in order to incorporate them into our life post-addiction can be a beautiful unexpected benefit of addiction treatment.
2. Meeting lifetime mentors and friends
An addiction treatment center can be the turning point in a troubled life. In treatment you’ll meet a variety of people: staff, therapists, doctors, and other people who are changing their lives and getting sober. I don’t know about you, but there are many people who have come and gone in my life that I will never forget. Some of them only said a few words to me while others are still mentors in my life today. You never know when you’ll meet someone special who could be a guiding light on your path. Many people meet mentors and friends in treatment and have relationships that last a lifetime.
3. Finding new hobbies you love
Hobbies are another thing we might miss while we’re in active addiction. The sports that you played as a child, the interests you picked up growing up – jewelry making, playing music, reading, or writing could have stopped abruptly or never have reached their full potential because your addiction took over. In treatment you’ll partake in fun, sober activities like equine therapy, beach days, exercise, and other fun hobbies that may or may not be new to you. You might find one you used to love and decide to do it again, or you might find a completely new activity and fall in love with it. For example, I found CrossFit in sobriety, and there are even CrossFit gyms made up of just sober people. Treatment could be the place where you find your new, healthy addiction.
4. Learning to be alone
Addiction treatment is a time to get away from the people, places and things that might negatively affect us and encourage our addictions. But it can also be a time when you’re away from your children, significant others, and loved ones. This can be difficult and for many people it’s the first time they spend a significant time alone. Before I got sober, I hated being alone. I would call anyone who was available to come hang out with me because I dreaded being alone with myself and my thoughts. Spending time at a treatment center can help you learn how to be alone, the benefits of solitude, and how to become comfortable in your skin. Alone time can be a precious recharge where we concentrate on no person or substance outside of ourselves. We finally get the attention and care we deserve.
5. Learning more about yourself
With all of these benefits, the most important one may be what you learn about yourself. That includes what you feel inside, what your moral values are, what you want out of life, and what dream and goals you have for yourself. These topics are some you might have never thought about before treatment. It’s hard to think about anything else besides the day in front of you and your drug of choice while deep in your addiction. Now that you have a sense of freedom with being sober, you’re able to picture your future and what you want to achieve from it. Learning about myself in recovery has been one of the most beautiful parts of it.
Addiction treatment doesn’t have to be a prison sentence. It teaches us so much more than how to get off drugs and alcohol. These are just a few of the many unexpected benefits of addiction treatment that results in recovery.