Addiction has various side effects that can take a toll on being an “adult” to society’s standards. Not only does addiction affect your physical health, but it also greatly affects your mental health and level of maturity. Substance abuse and addiction cause your brain to develop at a slower rate. This can make engagement in adult responsibilities more challenging after overcoming addiction. For the average individual, transitioning into adulthood is full of emotional changes. Adding the stress of addiction on top of this emotional rollercoaster requires a high level of commitment.
It is important to establish a routine for your day-to-day life during this period. Establishing a routine forces you to engage in activities that will benefit your mental health and keep you on track with your addiction recovery progress. There are many signs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends to out watch for to avoid a relapse when adjusting to adult life. These include:
- Change in energy levels
- Loss of interests
- Inconsistent sleep habits
- Change of appetite
- Difficulty with daily tasks
- Anxious and hopeless feelings
- Extreme mood or behavior changes
These symptoms often occur because the cortex of your brain has been changed from your addiction phase. Your body eventually relies on that addiction to function properly. These withdrawal symptoms are normal to experience when adjusting to your new adult life. Allowing your body to reset to its natural level of functioning is the best for your long-term health, but it will require you to work through these withdrawal symptoms, which can be a large obstacle.
If you notice yourself consistently engaging in any of these habits, reach out to your mental health professional to reestablish your recovery plan before you allow these habits to take over your progress.
One of the biggest effects addiction has on adult functioning involves your decision-making ability. Addiction makes it easy to act on your impulses and take action in something that you have not thought through first. This is a common struggle to overcome when recovering from addiction and to leave behind in your day-to-day decision-making process.
Engaging your brain in critical thinking exercises can help you increase your decision-making abilities. Spending some time during the day to work on a puzzle, sudoku puzzle, crosswords, or any form of activity that forces your brain to critically engage reinforces its ability and makes it easier for you to use during daily interactions. Strengthening your critical thinking and improving your decision-making ability allows you to make the right decision when presented with situations that can hinder your recovery.
Find Your Identity
Finding your identity when dealing with addiction is one of the greatest challenges. Society views an “adult” as someone who has found their identity and can support themselves. When someone is dealing with addiction, both of these things are highly unlikely. Working through addiction provides a large number of opportunities for you to establish who you want to become.
Take the time to think about who you want to be. Knowing who you are and who you want to become can drastically increase your self-confidence in yourself, which is vital to your progression. You will not be able to live a functional adult life if you are constantly doubting your ability to do so. Discover your identity and use it to build an adult life correspondent with what you want to become. Spend time every day to point out your positive attributes. This will build your confidence.
A common problem people encounter with addiction recovery is the tendency to self-isolate. Pushing yourself away from social interactions and situations where you might feel uncomfortable can become a habit. This feeling of rejection stems from your opinion of yourself. Knowing you struggle with addiction, you might understandably focus on the negative attributes you have acquired. However, this is counterproductive. Instead, acknowledge the progress you have made and the amazing qualities you have to build your confidence in yourself. This empowers you to interact in the adult world without feeling guilty. Remember that most people you will interact with do not know your past. They are unaware of what you are working through and are not going to jump to judgment.
These positive interactions with society can reestablish your sense of belonging to your community. You may discover other individuals dealing with similar issues or find a support system through your community engagement. Encourage yourself to get outside and discover new places. Opening yourself up to new opportunities can be stressful after recovery, but doing so enables you to find enjoyment in spending time around others.
Becoming an “adult” after working through addiction treatment may require more stability than you first realized. It can be an overwhelming transition to a state of creating stability for yourself outside of recovery without allowing it to take an emotional toll on your progress. Acquiring decision-making skills, discovering your identity, and avoiding self-isolation are ways to make this adjustment easier. Discovering how interacting with society as an adult positively influences your recovery process can help this transition run smoothly. Encourage yourself to be an influencing factor in your community and let your community give that back to you. Keeping your main focus on your recovery and not allowing outside factors to negatively affect your progress is essential during this period of your life. If you are in need of support during this adjustment period and are struggling to create stability in the adult world, reach out to Dream Recovery at (949) 732-1960.