The world is full of words. We say them. We hear them. We read them. We write them. We enter them letter by letter into crossword grids, and we try to guess a five-letter word in six tries or fewer. We sing them and shout them and whisper them. Heck, most (but not all) people think in words! The sheer number of words we interact with in one way, or another each day is hard to even guess at. Suffice it to say that the number would be big.
Some of those many, many words, of course, don’t really register with us or make much of an impression one way or another. But there are plenty of other words that have a real impact—especially for a person who is recovering from a substance use disorder.
Let’s consider a few categories of words that can really affect your efforts to maintain your sobriety.
The Words We Say to Ourselves
Many of us have a voice in our heads that is, to one degree, narrating and commenting on our life. For many people, that inner voice has a decided tendency to criticize them rather than build them up. And when a person’s inner monologue is constantly pointing out mistakes, recounting regrets, and suggesting that goals are unreachable, it can quickly undermine sobriety. The temptation to turn back to drugs or alcohol to drown out the inner critic can be hard to resist—especially when that inner critic keeps telling you that you probably can’t stay sober anyway.
There are a number of things you can do to adjust your inner voice’s point of view so that your internal messaging system finds the positive rather than the negative more frequently. Daily affirmations, mindfulness practice, and even naming your inner critic can be helpful tools.
Also helpful? Limiting the amount of negative talk you hear from others.
The Words Others Say to Us
Some people say cruel things because they are mean. Others say things that hurt us even though they have good intentions. Both can be problematic for a person in recovery.
If there are toxic people in your life—people who criticize, make fun of you, or encourage you to give up your sobriety—it is essential that you end those relationships. Hearing those kinds of words from one of your purported friends can only have negative consequences.
Meanwhile, you may also have people in your life who are legitimately trying to be helpful but are missing the mark badly. These are the people who suggest that if you had more faith or more willpower or more character, you could get and stay sober all on your own. They might think they are encouraging you, but instead, they are failing to understand the real nature of addiction and the real work that must be done to stay sober over time. Kindly but firmly asking them to stop talking to you in this manner is an important step toward building relationships that can truly provide support for your sobriety.
The Words in the World
The last category of words we want to consider are those that make up our pop culture and the ways in which those words sometimes glorify drug or alcohol use. Songs, books, movies, television shows, video games, and more can offer up messages that make drug use look sexy or essential to creativity or any number of other misleading (or wholly incorrect) messages. These sorts of words are part of the background noise of our lives, but their messages can seep into our consciousness. Rejecting words that suggest drug or alcohol use is a positive rather than a negative is a good way to firm up the foundation of your sobriety.
We’re Not Just Talking the Talk. We’re Walking the Walk.
Here’s the honest truth: At Wooded Glen Recovery Center we provide personalized care grounded in expertise, experience, and compassion. Those aren’t just words to us. They are fundamental commitments. We treat each person we help as an individual, working to find the approaches to treatment that will help you regain and maintain your sobriety.
And because good mental health is fully intertwined with ongoing sobriety, we will identify and address any co-occurring mental health disorder that may be in play. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, or a trauma-based issue, we are prepared to help you improve your overall mental well-being and then maintain those gains.
Listen, it is all too easy to say you need to get help for a substance use disorder. Here at our Indiana facility, we are dedicated to demonstrating how you can get—and stay—sober. Give us the word, and we’ll get to work.