Identifying and working to change addiction and/or mental health issues are challenging, at best. Therapy is highly effective to address these issues, and work toward making positive changes. Connecting with others with similar goals is also part of a successful recovery program. Addiction and mental health issues intensify in isolation, and as these issues progress, individuals become more and more consumed by their thoughts and preoccupations, causing a disconnect from self and others. This can result in feelings of separation, defectiveness and shame, and logical and rational thinking can become more and more distorted. Strong feelings of loneliness make it difficult to get on track to health and wellness. At times a person may feel that their situation is so unique that no one else will understand it. This “terminal uniqueness,” as it is called in recovery circles, can be yet another barrier to getting well.
Although everyone has his or her own detailed set of circumstances, identifying with the experiences and feelings of others who are seeking successful and consistent recovery from addiction and/or mental health issues is crucial to the process. Support and encouragement through therapy groups and 12-step meetings help individuals identify with others’ feelings and experiences, and provide a resource to build a support network of other recovering people. Sharing with and listening to those who are traveling the same path can be encouraging and validating, and provide reality checks along the way. Sponsor relationships provide an additional connection for guidance and support.
Some people are concerned about being seen by someone they know at therapy groups or 12-step meetings. Concern of being seen by someone they know often didn’t stop a person from acting out when they were active in their illness. Remember, everyone who attends these meetings has a reason for being there. Anonymity and confidentiality are taken very seriously, and are important for the success of everyone there.
Research continues to reveal the correlation between positive interpersonal connectedness and the increase in brain chemistry for improved mood and sense of wellness. People seem to do their best in a positive environment that allows them to connect and identify with others. Recovery is a long road, but taken one day a time with a good support system it reaps great rewards… so trust the process and get involved!
Patricia Hall, M.S.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Certified Addictions Counselor
Certified Sex Addiction Therapist