Understanding Courage in Recovery

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Some view addiction recovery treatment as a step that only follows hitting “rock bottom” with a drug or alcohol addiction, or as a step taken only out of weakness. And while recovery from addiction can come at the point when an addiction becomes life inhibiting, it remains a courageous choice nonetheless. Whether you’re choosing to receive treatment out of complete necessity, or you’re choosing it before an addiction leads to consequences like unemployment and financial struggle, choosing to receive treatment requires courage. If you’re getting ready to receive treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction or are in the early stages of recovery following extensive treatment, you may be wondering where you’ll find the courage needed in order to move forward. Here are some ways that you can gain a better understanding of courage and  use it to fuel your recovery.

Recognize courage you already have.

If you’ve already made the choice to receive treatment for an addiction, you’re likely already more courageous than you think. Even when an addiction becomes life inhibiting or life threatening, carrying with it a plethora of negative consequences for your life, saying goodbye to an addiction can be extremely difficult because it is like saying goodbye to a close friend or go-to coping mechanism. When you choose to receive treatment for an addiction, you are making the difficult choice to give this up in favor of something better. Moreover, you may very well be choosing to go against what many of your friends are doing. Therefore, recognize the courage involved in the choice to seek treatment for an addiction. It will help you to remember the measure of courage you have already shown in recovery.

Know that courage isn’t absence of fear.

Many see courage as an absence of fear, but in reality, it is the ability to move forward despite the fears that come your way. If you are harboring feelings of fear when reflecting on the road to recovery ahead—be it fear of leaving friends behind, fear of creating a new lifestyle, or fear of the unknown—it doesn’t mean that you don’t have courage. You courage will be defined, rather, by how you respond to these fears. And you don’t have to respond to these fears alone; friends, family members, and addiction recovery specialists are there to help you respond to these fears in a healthy way that will point you towards sobriety.

Recognize the different facets of courage.

It can help to think of the various facets that make up courage, rather than imagining courage as this abstract, unachieveable trait. Three traits that are closely related to courage are honesty, bravery, and perseverance. Honesty involves facing the reality of addiction, being completely truthful about how much control an addiction might have in your life. Bravery, on the other hand, involves standing up for what you feel is right, no matter what the consequences might be (e.g., losing friends or needing to take time away from work). And an ability to persevere means being able to move forward despite the challenges and disappointments that might come your way. So, rather than attempting to gain courage as a whole, focus on gaining these more concrete aspects of courage.