It is essential to learn how to love yourself throughout your process of recovering from addiction. However, learning to love yourself also requires you to balance treating your needs, not just your wants. It can be hard to determine what feelings are wants and what are needs. 

For example, in treatment, you may feel like you only want to talk about what goes on in your day-to-day life now that you are sober. While this is important, it may be even more crucial to treat underlying trauma that led to your addiction. By talking about past experiences rather than the present, you treat your needs rather than your wants. It is essential to distinguish needs from wants to give your body and mind what it needs to move forward and achieve fulfillment.

Understanding the Difference

Needs are essential for your survival and well-being. Basic needs such as water, nutrients, and shelter are all necessary for survival. These are all critical needs; however, there are many other needs you need to focus on to develop a healthy state while in recovery. While treating your needs while in addiction treatment, you may need to focus on both your physical and psychological needs. Adapting your treatment plan to fulfill both needs can help you create a sense of balance in your life.

Physical Needs

A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. In recovery, it is essential to ensure you have a healthy body. Addiction can rob you of the ability to maintain your physical health. However, in addiction treatment, you have the chance to focus on treating your physical needs to learn how to live a healthy life again. 

Ensuring you are drinking at least 64 ounces of water daily, eating nutritious meals and obtaining enough calories, and having some form of physical activity can help create an overall healthy lifestyle. Challenge yourself to explore what aspects of your life you feel are missing and make a habit out of those needs. 

Psychological Needs

The Self-Determination Theory focuses on three basic needs to treat psychological fulfillment. These three psychological needs can be more complicated to fulfill than your basic survival needs but are just as crucial to sustaining balance.

#1. Need for Autonomy

The need for autonomy means finding a sense of self-purpose. Focusing on the direction of your thoughts, making choices for yourself, and engaging in critical thinking skills can fulfill this sense of autonomy. Goal setting is one of the most significant ways to satisfy this need. Setting goals for yourself, picturing what you want for your future, and planning how to achieve that all feed into your overall need for autonomy.

#2. Need for Competence

The need for competence relates to your individual feeling of awareness of your environment. It is a simple way to describe how you feel your existence impacts the environment around you and understand your ability to overcome troubles within your surrounding environment. One of the best ways to fulfill this need is by spending time outside. Look at the natural beauty surrounding you and think of how it relates to your self-worth. Journaling, drawing, and other forms of creative engagement can help you fulfill this need.

#3. Need for Relatedness

The need for relatedness is one of the most important psychological needs. This refers to the need of having a support system. Finding a sense of mutual care and being able to connect with other beings will fulfill this need. Engaging in healthy social activities and surrounding yourself with people who are positive influences on your recovery can help to meet this psychological need.  

What Are Your Wants?

Wants are things that seem appealing to you at the moment but do not have long-term benefits to your recovery. We all have had moments where buying something we have been wanting will help us feel better, or so we think. This rewarding form only gives an individual temporary satisfaction. It may feel exciting when you first fulfill your wants, but you cannot maintain a happy mindset if you are not fulfilling your physicals and psychological needs first. 

When Is It Okay to Treat Your Wants?

Treating your wants is not always a bad thing. There are many times throughout your life when you will find that it is beneficial for your overall well-being to treat your wants. It is essential to consider what those wants are and if they are going to help you be successful in the long run. Treating wants that are beneficial to you as a reward for yourself every once in a while can help you feel happier. 

Ensuring your needs are treated first can help give you more clarity on your wants. Using wants as a form of reward and not relying on them as a form of satisfaction is essential to ensure you do not fall into the habit of only treating your wants.

What does it mean to treat your needs rather than your wants? Treating your wants only provides you with a temporary feeling of satisfaction. Catering to your needs sets you up for long-term fulfillment. Our bodies have many physical and psychological needs essential to maintaining overall well-being. Maintaining your health by drinking enough water, obtaining your needed nutrients, and having healthy sleep patterns are all needs for our physical body. Psychologically, we need to obtain three primary conditions. The need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness are all essential in recovery. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and want to treat your needs, Dream Recovery is here to help you take the first step. Based in Orange County, Dream Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment center that evaluates, identifies, and addresses challenges to sustainable recovery. For more information on what it looks like to treat your needs rather than your wants, call (949) 732-1960.

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