Context and understanding is everything—in addiction and life in general. The only way to truly solve a manage a problem is to figure out the systemic failures that led to it and address them so they can be confronted and kept under control. Those of us who have struggled with drug or alcohol dependency learn this first-hand while we are in treatment. A fundamental part of the rehab process is helping us to understand the behavioral factors that have led to and sustained our substance abuse. Without this knowledge, we have no frame of reference for behavior modification and the factors that we need to avoid if we’re to achieve long-term sobriety.
Confronting our pasts and traumas can be a difficult process. There is a reason why many of us have buried these incidents deep down and used drugs and alcohol to cope with them. For some, facing reality is scary. However, it’s a necessary part of the recovery process. The unfortunate truth is that many of us experience ugly and unthinkable traumas throughout our lives that we’d very much like to forget. These incidents occur through no fault of our own and we’re left to deal with the aftermath, and that can be too much. When we finally face these traumas, with the help of our therapists and treatment providers, we take the first step toward independence from our pasts.
One of the important things to remember is that addressing the root causes of our addictions is an ongoing process. Each one of our circumstances is unique and will require varying levels of time to manage and come to terms with. As helpful as treatment is in getting the process started, there is no magical “readiness” light that goes on when we leave our programs. This is why it is important to continue our therapy or 12 step program even rehab. It was a complex and multifaceted series of circumstances that brought us to addiction, and ultimately, it will be our own ability to untangle this web that will allow us to take our lives back and sustain our long-term sobriety.