From sharing our occupation to the time we die; our lives are centered around our social identities. Mother, brother, friend, neighbor, writer, doctor, teacher, engineer – all of these are social identities that help us relate to others and describe our role in society. Take a moment to consider the identity labels that you or others place on yourself. What do these labels say about your values, beliefs, and attitudes towards life? How well do these labels portray who you really are or who you want to be? Social identity is more than just helping others learn about who we are – it’s a message of how we view ourselves, too. When it comes to your recovery, your social identity says a lot and it’s bound to change as you work towards your recovery.
A 2015 study titled “Social Identities as Pathways Into and Out Of Addiction” explored the transition of individuals from the “substance user” identity to the “recovery” identity. Twenty-one adults in a drug and alcohol community were interviewed. The researchers found that some participants felt they lost their identity around the time their addiction started, but later found it when they were in recovery. As one participant stated, “In my good bits, I excel, really excel. I was playing basketball too, got drafted for the Northern Tigers….and then everything just went *poof*”.
Other individuals stated that addiction provided them with an identity – a sense of social belonging. One person stated, “I learnt by being naughty I could have friends that actually liked me, that wanted to be with me.”
These people talked about how difficult it was for them to transition into recovery because of their social identity, but many participants also noted that once their social identity transitioned from one of substance use to one of recovery, it became a little easier to be around people who also reflected that social identity. Participants stated that once they were in recovery, they felt a sense of purpose and a meaningful role within the community. Ultimately, this helped them to move on.
If you haven’t already, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center to learn more about programs that could assist you on your journey to recovery. Sometimes change is for the better. In this case, it always is.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.