Addiction is difficult to treat. One of the goals of a drug and alcohol rehab is achieving a cessation of substance abuse, of course. But sobriety is all too often fleeting if the deeper causes of the addiction are not uncovered and addressed.
Addiction expert Stephanie Covington believes that addiction can be understood as a disorder of the self. Often, she writes, there is a conflict between the “outer self,” the role an individual plays in society, and the “inner self,” the feelings, thoughts, and attitudes of a person.
If self-esteem is low, the self will depend too much on the approval of others—and on substance use. “For most of my years as a addict, I was obsessed with receiving approval and validation from outside sources,” addiction specialist Erica Spiegelman remembers in Rewired.
“I looked to other people, to products and procedures, and (of course) to alcohol to make me feel good about myself.” – Erica Spiegelman
Recovery from addiction must be more than simply giving up substance use. Treatment must also attempt to recover the authentic self of the addicted person.
Dr. Philip Hemphill is the Chief Clinical Officer of Lakeview Health. “In residential treatment, we want to give patients a full body–mind–spirit experience,” he says. It is a comprehensive re-calibration. “The whole sense of self, the way they define themselves and function in society is reset.”
It means disengaging from the inauthentic self and reconnecting with the true self that was present before the substance abuse and any trauma that might have caused it. If trauma or chronic pain are major factors in substance use disorders, they need to be addressed in therapy. Otherwise, the distorted sense of self persists and a relapse into active addiction is likely.
If the negative feelings and attitudes of the addicted self are not overcome and replaced with a positive outlook on life, recovery from addiction will become an extremely difficult uphill struggle. “At Lakeview, we address all aspects of a patient’s life, not just the addiction,” says Hemphill.
“People need to fashion a better identity for themselves; they need to change how they live their lives and who they believe they are.” – Dr. Philip Hemphill
The holistic treatment at Lakeview Health addresses body, mind, and spirit. The health and fitness program focuses on the needs of the body. Psychotherapy helps heal the mind while the inclusion of spirituality and mindfulness allows patients to develop a new sense of purpose and to connect with a more positive sense of self.
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