Addicts and alcoholics have a hard time looking at the reality of a situation. It isn’t their fault. Years of substance abuse has changed the way their brain relates to the present moment and the truth. Learning to manage thinking and make life-thinking more realistic is a challenge for recovering addicts and alcoholics from the minute they decide to recover. For example, when an addict or alcoholic realizes that they cannot continue to drink alcohol and use drugs, they are really realizing that it isn’t realistic they continue their use. When a doctor plainly tells a patient, if you continue to drink and/or use, you are likely to die, it isn’t realistic that continuing to drink or use would lead to not dying. On the same token, someone who is addicted has to realize that realistically, they cannot achieve sobriety and all the gifts as well as changes that sobriety brings by continuing to drink or use.
Reality therapy focuses on goals and looking at current behaviors in how they either work toward or work against those goals. Simply put, someone who wants to get and stay sober is not able to work toward those goals when they continue to drink and use. Looking at a situation in terms that are more black and white help someone in recovery discern what is realistic thinking and what is not realistic thinking. Sticking close to reality is critical for reshaping the addicted brain in recover. High amounts of substances in the brain cause the creation of the euphoric effect which can take addicts and alcoholics into delusion, fantasy, hallucination, and even severe paranoia. None of these mental states are reality or contribute realistically to one’s life. Spending enough time there can create what feels like a new reality.
Wants, doing, evaluation, and planning are core components of the reality therapy approach to addiction treatment and mental health recovery. First, it is essential for someone in recovery to define what it is that they want. Often this takes uncovering true wants and needs which have been masked by wants and needs for other as well as low self-esteem. Shame and stigma are persistent in recovery and can often lead to feeling undeserving or unworthy of one’s true desires. Once the wants have been revealed and fully embodied, the behaviors to get or to self-sabotage getting those wants are examined. Evaluating the helpfulness or harming tendencies of these behaviors helps create a more realistic view on how someone in recovery is working toward their goals. Lastly, with their therapist, a person in recovery starts to plan how they are going to change their behaviors and start working realistically toward their goal.
Enlightened Recovery Solutions is helping men and women create a harmonious balance of health and wellness in mind, body, and spirit. Offering a blend of clinical, holistic, and 12 step techniques, our programs bring clients to a lifestyle of recovery.
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