Drug addiction recovery is not easy or short; it is a long-term process involving several phases including detox, rehab, ongoing care, and sober living. One of the most difficult aspects of committing to recovery is the time involved in doing so. A person may feel as though he or she is missing out on life because of rehab or may feel compelled to live each day to the fullest, which can feel very difficult to do in recovery with limited access to the outside world. However, learning patience and putting this virtue into practice is an essential part of the recovery process.
The Value Of Patience
Patience helps us appreciate the moment and manage stress. We may face demands every day and contend with unmet needs that make patience more difficult, and learning patience in these situations is crucial for a healthy outlook. Drug addiction interferes with the body’s natural physical and psychological processes on a profound level. Patience is difficult for a person dealing with cravings, stress, and other triggers that encourage drug use.
A High-Demand, Fast-Paced Modern World
Modern life is incredibly fast-paced thanks to technology, and this creates a real psychological impact on society. People generally expect to be able to meet needs quickly, find answers to their questions quickly, and see the results of their efforts quickly, but this isn’t always possible. This is especially difficult with addiction recovery; a person may fret at the idea of spending weeks or months in a treatment center and want the whole situation to be over as quickly as possible, but there is no quick fix for substance abuse.
Many people develop addictions from high-stress jobs as coping mechanisms. A person with a substance abuse disorder may be unwilling to sacrifice time at his or her job to enter treatment, further exacerbating an already dangerous situation. It may also take quite a long time for a person to recognize the effects his or her addiction has had. Patience is a crucial element of addressing one’s own failings in mistakes as well as recovery.
Psychological Impacts Of Addiction
Addiction affects behavior and cognitive reasoning to a dramatic level. A person starts shaping his or her behaviors around an addiction and other areas of the person’s life suffer as a result. A craving is an impulse that can overshadow even the most important basic needs in daily life like food, water, or paying bills on time. During treatment, a person learns how to be patient with cravings and find alternative coping skills to handle the waiting time until a craving passes. A big part of addiction treatment is learning to delay gratification and process cravings and urges constructively.
Patience In Recovery And Beyond
During rehab, patients receive medical treatment for the physical effects of addiction, psychological counseling to help them process past traumas, grief, and regrets, and receive different types of therapies to address the full spectrum of effects from addiction. Throughout the entire recovery process, patience is a crucial element that all patients will need to evolve within themselves. Some may hate the idea of recovery taking months or even years, but the alternative of spiraling further into addiction is much worse.
The Serenity Prayer
The “serenity prayer” is a common element of addiction treatment and many support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. One of the most well-known quotes from this prayer is:
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
This powerful quote can resonate with anyone regardless of the religious implications of the prayer. Patience is necessary for accepting one’s own shortcomings, missteps, and past struggles with addiction. It can be very difficult to forgive yourself for things you did in the past, so it’s vital to learn to be patient with yourself in recovery. Patience is also necessary for making valuable life changes. It takes a great deal of effort and determination to build a new substance-free lifestyle after detox and rehab.
One of the most important aspects of patience for recovery is the fact that recovery does not stop after rehab. Recovery is an ongoing and essentially endless process of practicing self-awareness, self-control, and putting patience into practice every day.
Patience After Rehab
After rehab, a newly recovered person will likely feel a mixture of excitement and fear at the thought of returning to “normal” life. Friends and family may not be supportive of an individual’s recovery or may hold grudges about past bad behaviors. Some people may be dangerous influences that the recovered person will need to avoid. Patience is necessary for evaluating a person’s relationships and how they could influence long-term sobriety.
It’s sometimes necessary to be patient with an unsupportive friend or loved one. Eventually, the people who truly care will come around, and it’s necessary to be patient with others after recovery. You may be ready to get your life back on track, but the wounds caused by your addiction may still feel fresh to the people you affected in the past with your decisions.
Patience For Others
Substance abuse affects many more people than just the person with the problem; friends, family, spouses, partners, and children may all carry scars from a loved one’s past addiction. Rebuilding these bridges and repairing broken relationships takes time. Patience may be a virtue, but it can be difficult to be patient with a person who appears distant and unsupportive, especially when that person is a major figure in your life.
A patient in an addiction recovery center may feel detached from his or her previous life, trapped in a situation in which he or she has very little control, or dreading the thought of addressing the legal and social consequences of drug addiction. Throughout the recovery process, it is essential to deal with these feelings honestly and remember that recovery is not a short-term process.
Dr. Bhalavat is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, and provides inpatient evaluation and consultation services at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital, Maryland Recovery Partners, and Citizens Care & Rehabilitation Center. Dr. Bhalavat’s background includes treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, substance abuse and dementia.