Struggling with an addiction is one of the most difficult things that a person can deal with. An addiction to alcohol or drugs can literally strip away someone’s entire life. From family to friends to jobs to self-esteem, an addiction can cause all kinds of losses. Learning patience may help addicted individuals get their lives back.
What Is Addiction?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, addiction is essentially a brain disease that’s characterized by compulsive substance use in spite of the harmful effects of using that substance. Addiction can be behavior-based or substance-based, and people can get addicted to all sorts of things, including drugs, alcohol, sex and gambling.
Once someone has an addiction, it can be extremely difficult for them to heal and rid themselves of it. Most people struggling with addiction have to go through some sort of rehabilitation program in order to break the chains.
At Granite Recovery Centers, we understand the struggles of addiction all too well. We understand how physically debilitating addiction can be on the mind, body and soul. We have medical doctors, mental health professionals and behavioral specialists ready to help our clients get the help they need.
Sometimes, when people go through the recovery process, they start to get impatient. They want to know why they can’t rid themselves of their addiction as soon as possible. They become frustrated with themselves, start to blame themselves and assume that things aren’t moving as quickly as they want them to be because they’re weak.
This is not true at all. Addiction is an extremely difficult condition that needs time, support and empathy to overcome. What many people don’t realize is that one of the most important things needed during the addiction recovery process is patience.
How Do You Define Patience?
Patience is the act of remaining calm during a stressful situation or waiting for something that you really need or want. It is the ability to be able to continue to move forward without losing control, even though the thing that you want so badly is taking time to get to you. People who are patient realize that as long as they remain calm and committed to their task, they will succeed.
Patience is incredibly important when it comes to the addiction rehabilitation process. Without it, people are much more likely to relapse. Addiction recovery is not just about ridding the body of the substance that has wreaked havoc: It’s also about changing a person’s mindset and healing the wounds that led to the addiction in the first place. It’s about being kind to yourself as you go through the process of undoing the behaviors that caused you to become addicted.
Why Is Patience So Important When Someone Is Going Through Addiction Rehabilitation and Recovery?
One key thing about addiction is that it affects a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. This is an area of the brain responsible for managing a person’s ability to make decisions. It also handles impulse control.
When someone becomes addicted to drugs, alcohol or any other substance or behavior, the prefrontal cortex is weakened. The person is no longer able to maintain or control their behavior. They are more prone to making decisions that harm them, and the worst part is that they likely won’t even notice. The only thing that’s important to them at this point is getting the substance or the behavior that they are craving. They want it in the moment, and they don’t care if it makes more sense for them to get it later or to not get it at all.
Even if you are aware of the destructive, long-term consequences of remaining addicted to the substance or behavior, it may be extremely difficult to quit. Retraining your brain after thinking this way for so long is one of the most difficult parts of recovery. You literally have to teach the brain to relearn how to exercise control.
Learn to Be Patient With Yourself
This is not an easy process. It will take a lot of time, effort, support and re-education. For this reason, as you go through the recovery process, you need to learn how to be patient with yourself. Retraining the brain to eliminate a behavior that it has become so accustomed to is extremely difficult. It can be done, but it will take time.
In recovery, you have already gotten through the first part of the process: the will to change. Now, you have to go through the next part of the process: patience while relearning. You are going to want to see immediate results, but that’s not going to happen in most cases. You need to forgive yourself for not instantly being at a point where you’ve beaten your addiction.
Learn to Be Patient With Others
In addition to feeling patience for yourself, you need to be patient with those around you. If your loved ones have seen you go through the addiction process, they may be dealing with complex issues of their own. They may be suspicious about your ability to change. Some people may even outright say that they don’t think it will happen.
You have to be patient with those people and understand that they’re not coming from a place of hate; they are coming up from a place of exhaustion. Even though they were not the ones addicted, it was extraordinarily difficult for them to see you go through the process.
Be patient with them. Pull away if you have to. Realize that this process is about you, and understand that not everyone is going to be supportive or helpful. If you find yourself in this type of situation, it may be best for you to pull away from these types of people as you go through your healing and recovery process.
Protect Your Healing Process
One of the key reasons that you have to remain patient as you go through the rehabilitation and recovery process is that patience is what’s going to help you get to the finish line. When you’re patient with yourself during the recovery process, there’s less of a chance for you to relapse. By being patient, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to learn about why you have the addiction in the first place. This will then allow you to address those issues.
If you’re feeling frazzled and impatient, you won’t be giving yourself a chance to learn. Maybe it was an unresolved family issue that caused you to seek comfort in drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication. Maybe it was a traumatic event that happened years ago that you had suppressed. Maybe it was depression that caused you to reach out for something that could help you escape. The only way you’re going to find out is if you are patient with yourself and allow yourself to go through the process and all of the steps necessary for self-discovery and healing.
How Do You Actually Become Patient During the Recovery Process?
You’re going to need help learning how to be patient as you go through recovery. At Granite Recovery Centers, this is part of what we do. We remind our clients that the recovery process is a marathon and not a sprint. We help provide people with the tools that they need to channel patience so that they can go through all of the steps of recovery.
There are some things that you can do on your own to help you learn how to be more patient and forgiving of yourself. Consider trying some of the following things.
Start a Journal
Starting a journal is one of the best things that you can do during any restorative healing process, and it’s especially helpful during the addiction recovery process. When you journal, you’re writing down your emotions and feelings using a creative outlet. It’s a space for you to write down and chronicle all of your emotions. Those emotions could be fear, sadness, happiness, depression and anything else you feel. Sometimes, the reason that emotions build up in our minds is that we’re not getting them out anywhere else. A journal allows you to get that information and drama out of your head so that you can appropriately deal with it.
Putting down what you’re dealing with in writing is also a way for you to create visible proof of the things you struggle with. Instead of abstract thoughts, they become tangible concepts. Once you understand the enormity of the issues that you’re dealing with, you’ll be a lot more forgiving of yourself as you realize that the process may take longer than you’d originally hoped it would.
Practice Being Calm and Waiting
Practice makes perfect, and the same is true for learning patience. One way to train your brain to learn how to be patient is to pick up a hobby that requires time and commitment. This could be something as simple as growing plants from seeds or learning how to paint. There are thousands of videos online for people who want to learn new languages and other skills, so picking up a new hobby that requires patience doesn’t have to cost you any money.
If you take classes and notice over time that you start to get better at your craft or skill, your brain will understand that learning a skill and becoming good at it takes time. Once your brain processes information, you can internalize it to help you with patience throughout your recovery.
Gaining the skills and knowledge that you need to overcome addiction will take time. The good results that come about from good decisions won’t happen overnight.
We always tell our clients that signs of progress will come, so we help them to set realistic goals. Setting a lofty goal can be difficult, and if they don’t make it, they’ll feel disappointed. By setting smaller, bite-sized goals, our clients are more likely to have long-term success. Setting small goals allows you to recognize and realize accomplishments sooner.
As you start to achieve the small goals, you become more excited and determined to reach your other goals. It’s simply the way the brain works. After a while, you start to recognize your string of smaller accomplishments as part of a bigger whole.
Stay in the Present
It’s very easy for someone who’s struggling with an addiction to focus on all of the things that they’ve done wrong in the past. This is not helpful; it’s usually very destructive. Instead, people going through the addiction recovery process should focus on the “now.” They need to focus on the present and the headspace they’re in at the current moment. The process of dealing with the present is called mindfulness. This can incorporate breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and more.
By practicing mindfulness, a person in recovery is less likely to relapse because they’re not going to be focusing on all the things that they’ve done wrong in the past or mistakes they might make in the future. Focusing on the past will make them feel depressed and hopeless. Focusing on where they are now in the recovery process and all of the goals that they’re setting for themselves will help them continue to thrive.
We Can Help
At Granite Recovery Centers, we are incredibly proud of all of our clients wherever they are on their journeys. The fact that they are reaching out for help is something that we’re extremely proud of, and we will do everything in our power to make sure that they feel that same level of pride.
Through our inpatient and outpatient programs, we give people the tools that they need to do everything from detox (Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency) to going through intensive psychotherapy. Through our aftercare programs, we help our clients go through the processes that they need to continue to learn and grow every day.