One of the hardest parts about getting the mental health and/or addiction help that we need is communicating those needs to other people. However, what happens after we get over that hurdle and make it to recovery? Do those communication issues go away? Not necessarily. Often, the dynamic just shifts from asking for help to telling and reminding people of our continued mental health and addiction recovery needs.
The Importance of Communication in Recovery
Communication in recovery is critical. If we find ourselves unable to communicate, we can then find ourselves in a situation where we become vulnerable to a relapse, and relapses in recovery are much more common than many people may think.
According to the peer-reviewed article, New Findings on Biological Factors Predicting Addiction Relapse Vulnerability, “It has long been known that addictive disorders are chronic and relapsing in nature. Recent estimates from clinical treatment studies suggest that more than two-thirds of individuals relapse within weeks to months of initiating treatment. For 1-year outcomes across alcohol, nicotine, weight, and illicit drug abuse, studies show that more than 85% of individuals relapse and return to drug use within 1 year of treatment.” A lack of communication very much contributes to these staggering statistics.
How Do We Communicate Our Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Needs?
Many people avoid communicating their mental health and addiction needs because they are worried about the stigma that centers around these two issues. However, the fact of the matter is that many of these stigmas are being lifted, and failing to overcome this fear of stigma is not worth a potential relapse.
So, how, then, do we communicate our mental health and addiction recovery needs? One of the best ways to do this is to first practice communicating within a recovery community. These communities may include people from group therapy, people from 12-Step meetings, and/or people from a recovery center alumni group. Practicing communication skills with people with similar shared experiences can go a long way in preparing us to have conversations at home, at work, and at school. When it comes to communicating our mental health and addiction recovery needs at work and at school, it is important to remember that we cannot be discriminated against based on these factors.
This is due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). So, we must remember that we need not fear any consequences by communicating our needs. At home, we must remember that if people are unwilling to communicate with us then we must set boundaries for the household. By putting down a list of set boundaries and consequences, we do not have to worry about communication because the foundation for civility has already been set. Also, we must remember to reach out to others in recovery if we feel “triggered” at home.
Putting Our Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Needs First
The most important thing to remember when anxiety arises around communicating our mental health and addiction recovery needs is that we are not responsible for how other people act, only how we react to other people. When we remember this, we remember that our mental health and addiction needs must always come first.
The good news is that there are many ways that we can help ourselves communicate with the world around us. These ways include various coping skills and calming methods.
Tools When Situations Become Uncomfortable in Recovery
One effective tool when we are having trouble communicating with others is to “pause.” When we pause, we are able to compose ourselves and either reengage with an individual and the conversation or understand that we are always able to walk away from any situation that makes us uncomfortable.
Another tool that can always be helpful is the telephone (or smartphone, as most people have today). However, the phone is only as effective as our “sober network.” A sober network is a group of individuals either in recovery or in the recovery industry that we can call and “talk things out” when we are anxious or stressed. Making these connections can go a long way in helping us connect to people outside of the recovery realm, whether it be at home, work, or school.
The Long-Term Recovery Goals at Clearview Girls Academy
When thinking of how we communicate, it may be helpful to consider what the Buddha had to say about it. He said, “Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care, for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”
Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we know that communication in recovery is critical, and we must all understand that our issues deserve to be heard and felt as much as anyone else. Remember, we are worth what we have to say. So, we should never be afraid to say it, no matter what.
In recovery, it is important to communicate our needs concisely and clearly. If not, we can end up in situations that make us uncomfortable and jeopardize our sobriety and/or mental health. We must advocate for our mental health needs by being open about our recovery situation right from the start, as well as reminding others that they cannot discriminate against us because of mental health or addiction issues. If you feel like you are having trouble communicating your mental health and addiction needs clearly in certain situations, we can help. For more information about the importance of communication in recovery, please reach out to Clearview Girls Academy today at (888) 796-5484.