Some people feel like being diagnosed with substance use disorder (SUD) is a life sentence that will follow them forever and define their entire life. Stigmas perpetuated by society and the media have created stereotypes about substance misuse that people may internalize. However, SUD is nothing more than a mental health disorder that you can manage using evidence-based treatment. You can recover and live a life free from the effects of SUD. The care team at Newport Beach Recovery Center believes that everyone has the potential to overcome SUD and recover from the damage caused by the condition.
What Is a Mental Health Diagnosis?
Mental health issues can change how you think, act, and feel. A mental health professional will use various tests and assessments to determine if someone meets the criteria for a disorder and officially diagnose the condition. A diagnosis is a tool professionals use to determine how best to help you overcome specific issues and not:
- A judgment on the person or their character
- An indication that the person may have other issues
- A moral failing
People diagnosed with SUD and other conditions can make a full recovery with the help of rehabilitation, hard work, and support services. BMC Psychiatry states, “If a person no longer meets criteria for a mental illness, they are in remission.” Your SUD can enter a remission that lasts the rest of your life if you have the following tools:
- Essential life skills
- Healthy coping mechanisms
- Long-term achievable goals
- Sustainable healthy routines
- A support system
- Motivation to maintain recovery
- Access to prescription medication and other complementary treatments
- Access to community-based support services
- Peer support
With the right resources and a willingness to do the hard work in treatment and therapy, you can achieve sustained remission, which means you have gone 12 or more months without meeting the criteria for SUD. After a year of recovery, you may still feel cravings or have intrusive thoughts. However, if you know how to cope with them safely and healthily, they do not have to interfere with everyday life during your ongoing recovery.
Challenge Stigmas and Practice Self-Compassion
Stigmas exist around mental health, substance misuse, and treatment. You might have loved ones who negatively react to your diagnosis, and they may not understand what SUD entails. Sometimes, people start to believe the misinformation they hear about SUD. Self-stigmatizing involves internalizing these negative perceptions and applying them to yourself. To recover from SUD, you should practice self-compassion and challenge the stigmas you encounter.
According to National Academies Press, “Public perceptions and beliefs about mental and substance use disorders are influenced by knowledge about these disorders . . . and media portrayal of people with mental and substance use disorders.” Some of the populations that face increased stigma for attending SUD treatment include:
- Adolescents and young adults
Educating yourself and others about the realities of addiction can improve your self-esteem and help loved ones avoid misinformation.
You Are Not Your Diagnosis
Participation in a rehabilitation program requires facing the realities of your condition and how SUD has negatively affected your life and the people around you. Individual and group therapy can help you look beyond the diagnosis to underlying causes. You can recover and move forward from your addictive behaviors by doing the following:
- Actively participating in therapy
- Consciously choosing healthier behaviors
- Thinking more positively about yourself and recovery
The hard work you put into making positive lifestyle changes will provide you with a healthier and happier future where you can heal from substance misuse. At Newport Beach Recovery Center, we understand that recovery is a process that anyone can achieve if they have access to the right resources and tools.
How to Create Healthy Self-Awareness
You are not your diagnosis. However, your past choices did lead to the development of the disorder. To fully recover, you need to have a certain self-awareness about your part in the events that led to being diagnosed with SUD. Your ability to recognize what contributed to your condition will impact the effectiveness of treatment.
Some people have more risk factors and fewer opportunities to avoid falling into maladaptive behaviors. For example, some people grow up surrounded by friends and family who misuse substances or have mental health issues that interfere with their ability to function. You are the sum of your experiences, choices, and beliefs.
You can create healthy self-awareness by doing the following:
- Connecting actions, behaviors, and thought patterns with consequences and side effects
- Ask your loved ones and people in your support system to give you feedback on your past and current actions, beliefs, and goals.
- Learn to identify maladaptive thoughts and their underlying cause
- Actively listen to your care team and accept their guidance
Only you can make the necessary changes to guard your future against the effects of substance misuse.
Substance use disorder is not a label that defines you as a person. You do not have to let your past actions determine who you are or what you will accomplish in the future. Only you and your choices can define who you will become after achieving sobriety. Your mental health diagnosis is nothing more than a diagnostic tool and does not represent you. Many people in treatment self-stigmatize due to regret, shame, guilt, or fear related to their disorder; you can take back control of your life and heal from SUD. The care team at Newport Beach Recovery Center is here to help you learn new ways of thinking that will increase the effectiveness of treatment. We can help you build a healthy future. To learn more about the personalized programs we offer at Newport Beach Recovery Center, call us today at (888) 850-0363. You are not alone.