addiction recoverySelf Esteem....We hear the term thrown around a lot these days.  What is it, how is it different from self-confidence, and what does it mean in terms of our recovery from addiction?

Self esteem is generally defined as our perception of ourselves.  “Good” self esteem includes being secure and accepting of who we are, flaws included.  We are happy with what we see in the mirror and comfortable in our own skin. Self confidence has to do with our perceived abilities to do or accomplish something.  It is usually a result of having been able to overcome certain obstacles, difficulties or challenges in the past.

Self esteem and self confidence are not mutually exclusive concepts.  It is common for one to affect the other.  It is important to strengthen both in addiction recovery.  Without self confidence, we are likely to feel that we cannot cope with life’s challenges unless we use drugs, alcohol or our addictive behaviors.  We may feel that recovery is not worth working at because relapse is inevitable and we will ultimately “fail” at yet another endeavor.  There can be a “what’s the use” attitude with low self-confidence.

Without a healthy self esteem, we may feel that we are not worthy of recovery or of experiencing good things in our lives.  We may think that others won’t want to spend time with us as we really are...sober.

Most people dealing with addiction feel low self esteem.  Many wonder if they became engaged in addictive behaviors because of low self esteem, or if their self esteem decreased as a result of their addictive behaviors.  But if we get bogged down with this chicken and egg type questions, we may never fully immerse ourselves in recovery.  And this will prevent us from building up our self confidence as well as our self esteem.

In addiction recovery we are taught that we must have humility.  It is easy to confuse the difference between low self esteem and humility.  To be humble is to recognize our mistakes and shortcomings and to graciously accept and use our strengths.  It is having a right-sized view of ourselves and others and our importance in the world around us.  It is seeing that we are part of a very big world and our needs and wants are equal with those around us.

Having humility allows us to improve both our self esteem as well as our self confidence.  By admitting our mistakes honestly to ourselves and to others as part of a program of rigorous honesty, we learn to feel confident that others not only can and will accept us, but will love us all the more for our mistakes and shortcomings.  We learn that we can handle emotional intensity, conflict and confrontation without the aid of drugs or alcohol.  As our self confidence grows, our self esteem will often follow.

Building self esteem is not a quick project, but can be done.  When we allow ourselves to be seen truly as we are, we realize that our imperfections and shortcomings are our gifts to share with others.  We can see and our mistakes are our battle scars that prove where we’ve been and that can help others.

New Hope Recovery Center provides individualized treatment for all clients for long term recovery.  We understand that each client is unique.  If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you can reach us at 888-707-4673 (HOPE) or info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

 

addiction in the familyAddiction doesn’t happen in a bubble, it has a way of altering a family and the interactions of family members.  The effect addiction in the family has becomes quite apparent when we look at the dysfunctional communication roles that family members often take on.  These interactions are fittingly called The Drama Triangle.  There are three roles in the Drama Triangle and each one is reactive and manipulative instead of honest and authentic.

What Are The Roles People Play When Addiction Exists In A Family?

Victim: This person continually feels victimized for what others are doing to him or her.    They feel helpless and hopeless.  Victims typically have unrealistic expectations and feel despair, vulnerability, and suffer chronic disappointment. Victims or martyrs tend to communicate in passive ways.  The victim avoids responsibility by blaming others and trying to control them with guilt.  This person feels “less than” the persecutor and often receives pity and is taken care of by the rescuer.

Persecutor: This person acts out in order to get revenge and/or offend others, as a way of avoiding his or her own discomfort.  Persecutors often communicate in an aggressive way.  They blame and criticize others.  They see everything as win/lose and insist on “being right”.  This person feels “better than” the victim and uses intimidation and threats to feel power and try to boost self-esteem.

Rescuer: This person is a natural caretaker and very non-confrontational.  They keep secrets and enable addictive behaviors.  Rescuers provide unasked help (while neglecting themselves) and often feel tired, depleted, unappreciated, and resentful. Rescuers communicate in a passive-aggressive way.  This person feels superior to both the persecutor and the victim.  Rescuers concentrate on others in an effort to avoid turning inward.

If you see yourself in different roles in different situations, that is expected!   

People will start in one role and often move around the triangle to different roles, sometimes within one interaction.  For instance, consider an alcoholic who is out late drinking while their partner is at home worried.  The alcoholic may come home to an angry partner (persecutor role) and instantly be in the victim role but then try to turn the blame onto his/her partner (therefore reversing the roles).  The interaction may then evolve further with the partner helping the alcoholic to bed and calling into work on his/her behalf the next day (rescuing role).

Also, don’t forget this is the drama triangle, so these roles are assumed when things are going awry.  These are not permanent roles.  However, as we know as an addiction progresses things go awry more and more often.

Why Would Anyone Participate In The Drama Triangle?

We take on these roles because subconsciously there is a perceived benefit to each one.

  • The victim receives pity and doesn’t need to take full responsibility for their actions.
  • The rescuer feels superior although over time they feel unappreciated, frustrated and tired from their attempts to rescue.
  • The persecutor feels a sense of power and entitlement and demands respect from others.

But these benefits are really an illusion, Claude Steiner comments, “The victim is not really as helpless as he feels, the rescuer is not really helping, and the persecutor does not really have a valid complaint.”  All the roles have something in common: by taking on a role, you don’t have to deal with your own issues or take responsibility for your own actions.  The roles serve the purpose of getting our adult needs met but in immature ways.  All three roles share a lack of boundaries and hinder one’s ability to be intimate and/or respond to others appropriately.

How To Step Out Of The Drama Triangle?

The only person you can control is yourself.  You can begin to step out of the unmanageability of the drama triangle by:

  • Recognizing that there is a Drama Triangle that is not working
  • Setting healthy boundaries
  • Taking responsibility for your own actions
  • Speaking honestly, calmly saying what you really mean
  • Having respect for yourself and others
  • Valuing the relationships more than being right, or better than

If you or a loved one is repeatedly in The Drama Triangle because of addiction.  You can get help getting out by contacting New Hope Recover Center at info@new-hope-recovery.com or 773-883-3916.  For more information about us visit our website at www.new-hope-recovery.com.

Other articles you may find interesting: Family Roles and Addiction

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

 

September is Recovery Month.  To celebrate this month, and inspire ourselves and others, we offer daily Addiction Recovery tips.

Today's tip is:  Always remember to practice self care. Aim for 1 hour a day just for you - even if it is not done all at once

You can contact New Hope Recovery Center at 888-707-4673 (HOPE) or info@new-hope-recovery.comWe wish everyone a Happy Recovery Month!

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

Abstinence and Harm ReductionOne of the most polarizing philosophical debates in addiction counseling is between abstinence and harm reduction.  In general, Abstinence-focused addiction counseling believes that recovery only exists if the addictive substance is completely removed from the life of the individual it affects.  The issue is seen as largely black or white: either you drink/use drugs and deal with the consequences, or you abstain and live a life in recovery.  Harm Reduction-focused addiction counseling generally follows the belief that not everyone is in a place to completely abstain; and therefore, it is best to take steps to reduce the risks to the person and others when the individual chooses to partake in the addictive substance.  The notion is that some people may not currently be willingly or able to completely give up the substance of their addiction.

Philosophy of Abstinence in Addiction Counseling

The definition of abstinence means refraining, or being free from, the unwanted behavior.  Many people in the addiction world see abstinence as the only way to recovery based on the definition of addiction and the idea that the user has lost control.  The abstinence model follows the science behind addiction.  Science has shown that some people are genetically predisposed to addiction and are more likely to get hooked to substances or behaviors.  It is estimated that 40%-60% of a person’s predisposition to addiction is genetic.  Evidence also shows that with continued use, alcohol and drugs can physiologically and neurologically alter the brain.  The brain circuitry is forever altered, so if the individual starts using again, they will do so addictively.

This is the foundation for the disease concept and abstinence only philosophies. Someone who has become addicted to substances cannot undo the neurological and physiological alterations in a way that will allow them to use moderately in the future.  For these people, abstinence is seen as the only way to regain control of one’s life and effectively recover.  Alcoholic Anonymous and other 12-step fellowships follow the abstinence-based approach.  The only requirement may be a desire to stop drinking (or using) but the philosophy is rooted in this disease concept that the alcoholic has lost control over the substance and therefore treatment begins with sobriety.  AA and other fellowships are actually behavioral and psychological modification processes, seeking to instill in the minds of those who attend that if they are addicted, they are powerless over alcohol and other drugs.

Due to the nature of addiction, alcoholics and addicts usually have intricate denial and rationalization systems to convince themselves they don’t have a problem.  These psychological defenses are worked on with the First Step: admitting that they are powerless over alcohol and other drugs.  Cognitively, alcoholics and addicts need to retrain their minds that they are in fact powerless over alcohol and other drugs and therefore they cannot use them again.  Successful sobriety via the 12-step philosophy occurs when an individual can take their unhealthy attachment to substances and redirect it to a healthy attachment to the program.

Philosophy of Harm Reduction in Addiction Counseling          

The general focus of harm reduction is not whether an individual does or does not do a particular behavior, it is about reducing the potential problems associated with it.  Substance use under the harm reduction approach is not black/white, either/or; it is the gray area in between.  If a person chooses to drink or use drugs, the focus is on ways to reduce the risk from using.  An important concept that some people and policy makers do not understand is that the harm reduction approach should not be seen as condoning risky or illegal behavior.  Rather, it understands that risky behavior is inevitably going to occur, so it is more beneficial to curb the negative consequences incrementally as best as possible. 

There are many types of harm reduction modalities including: drug replacement therapy such as methadone or buprenorphine (Suboxone), needle exchange programs, designated drivers, substituting “less harmful drugs”, testing illicit drugs for harmful additives and behavior modification to control intake.  Because harm reduction philosophy and practice resides in the gray area of the continuum, research on the topic has been muddled, largely due to the lack of a consistent definition as to what harm reduction is and how it should be measured.  This makes sense even if you only consider the expansive list provided above as types of harm reduction.

Some in addiction counseling use harm reduction as a way to motivate the client for change and incrementally work towards abstinence: a harm-reduction now,  abstinence later approach to treatment.  Others in addiction counseling implement the philosophy fully in its own capacity: the end goal is not abstinence.

Evolving Integration of Abstinence and Harm Reduction

The philosophies of each group may be separate.  But in practice, the two philosophies are not as siloed as one might assume.  There is an overlap between the two philosophies and they are merging closer together than many people are aware of.  For people seeking help, total abstinence is an ideal goal but given their circumstances and motivation for change, that goal may be unreachable when they first seek help.  Many abstinence-based facilities are moving away from kicking out a client after one positive urine screen, which was not always the case.  Often the treatment team reassesses the situation and decides if the treatment plan is still appropriate and if the client is receiving the proper level of care.  Similarly, abstinence-based facilities are also increasingly using or allowing pharmacotherapy as an adjunct to treatment. Many treatment facilities now work with clients who are on Suboxone, Vivitrol, Naltrexone, etc.  In theory, allowing these medications is a harm-reduction approach to treatment, but in practice those modalities are becoming more acceptable across the board.

Client First

It is important to remember that the client and the client’s specific needs comes first, not the ideologies of the treatment staff.  There are no hard and fast rules that apply to all people trying to get sober and/or improve their lives.  No client is a black or white case, it is essential to individualize treatment and recognize the unique characteristics of each client.  The process should be a collaborative effort between the client and addiction counselor/treatment team.  If we put the client first, then the philosophical debates fall to the background.  The focus shifts to what is more important: being present and being an agent for change.

New Hope Recovery Center provides individualized treatment for all clients.  We understand that each client is unique.  If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you can reach us at 888-707-4673 (HOPE) or info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center