When someone is in the throes of the disease of addiction, they may feel they are in complete control of their life. They use the substance to numb feelings, to liven up before an event, or to make them feel the opposite of whatever they feel that they wish they didn’t. Some use the substance to sleep or to stay awake.
However, eventually, they will need this substance to feel a semblance of normal. They will need it to stop the morning shakes, dizziness, nausea, or pain. An individual may either feel they are completely in control of their use and its impact on their body, mood, and mind, or they have hit the point where they have realized they have lost all control.
The loss of control is a striking point for those dealing with substance use disorder (SUD). It is a “now what” moment. How are they to gain control of their lives back? Are people now telling them they need help? Making choices for them? Telling them what they need to do?
The substance is no longer doing what it intended. This in itself becomes rather frustrating. However, they don’t know how to take back control. They don’t know how to begin to take their life back. They know what they want but don’t know how to get there and aren’t quite willing to give control over to someone who might have the answer or solution.
Why Is Control a Driving Factor for Those in Recovery?
Someone who is beginning their journey in recovery has just faced the loss of the control they thought they had over their life. They lost the primary tool they were using to get through each day. Every stressor was met with this substance to try and relieve it. They are now trying to live without this “go-to” tool. As a result, they often feel like others are controlling their lives, schedules, activities, places they go, what they put in their body, and so on.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) describes it perfectly: “Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences.” Compulsivity is wired into those living with substance abuse issues, and you will see this across all aspects of their lives. The ability to control these impulses, even simple ones such as “I want tacos,” so everything stops, and they go to get tacos, is difficult to manage. Practicing ways to take control in simple ways will support the person in feeling more centered.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has initiated a program for healthcare professionals to support their understanding of those living with SUDs. This identifies the ways healthcare professionals respond to those seeking or needing assistance.
“This four-part webcast series educated healthcare professionals about the importance of using approaches that are free of discriminatory attitudes and behaviors in treating individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) and related conditions, as well as patients living their lives in recovery.” Supporting clients in taking control of their healthcare and their lives is a more responsive approach to initializing recovery.
How Destiny Recovery Center Supports Clients in Taking Control in Healthy Ways
Destiny Recovery Center (DRC) helps clients practice ways they can take control of their lives in healthy ways. This could be demonstrated in something simple such as having clients assist in choosing menu items, hobbies they enjoy, and physical activities they used to participate in that they may be interested in trying again. DRC supports clients’ individualized care. Allowing clients to make choices wherever possible is nurturing this need for clients to have control.
During therapies – group and individual – an exploration of control, the need for control, and healthy ways to stay in control will all be explored. DRC staff will encourage the implementation of these strategies for clients to exercise and become confident using them. Gaining this power in the appropriate ways will support the long-term success of someone in recovery.
Reflection on Control
When reflecting on what an individual has control over and how it impacts their feelings toward a situation, they may ask themselves the following questions:
- Am I overreacting in this situation?
- How am I feeling like I am losing control?
- How do I feel that someone is trying to control what I do?
- How does that make me feel?
- What do I have control over?
- What can I change about this situation?
- Is it healthy?
- How can I speak with the other person so they may understand how I am feeling about this?
When considering these questions, an individual may be able to view the situation differently and determine a more positive way to handle a situation. For many, this is difficult, especially for those in early recovery. DRC incorporates strategies into our treatment program to ensure clients are able to handle situations in a healthier way. Throughout inpatient treatment and continued into aftercare, clients will master the strategies required to keep control of their life and their health.
When living with substance use disorder (SUD), many may feel that they can use the substance to address an issue or to fill a need. Many feel that they have control over their substance until they don’t. When starting the journey of recovery, a need to have some sort of control over aspects of their lives is crucial to continuing this path in a healthy and positive manner. Learning to take control in healthy ways, and feeling like they have options, could be the link that prevents someone from relapsing. To learn healthy strategies for taking control during recovery, call Destiny Recovery Center and speak to one of our knowledgeable and nurturing staff at (909) 413-4304.