The connection between past life experiences and addiction can’t be argued. The reason an addiction is developed generally stems from an experience, physical or emotional. This is why it is essential that an addict confront their past, and acknowledge its role in their addiction as they progress with recovery.

At an early age, we develop certain behaviors, and these behaviors are linked to how we interact with others and handle situations. The difficulty lies in trying to identify the factors that caused these behaviors to originate in the first place. They can be so deeply implanted in our subconscious, uprooting the reason for their origin is almost impossible without professional assistance.

reflecting on the past

Being able to recall past events is difficult, especially for addicts. It can be stressful, painful, frustrating, and unpleasant after prolonged substance abuse, which affects the memory and is generally an addict’s solution for suppressing reality.

Failure to accept that a connection between your past experiences and your addiction is real and exists will eliminate any possibility for a successful recovery. One of the steps that members of our inpatient program take in an effort to end the vicious cycle of substance abuse is addressing their past experiences, and developing healthy behaviors to deal with the scarring of these experiences as a result.

Sessions involve one-on-one and/or group discussions about past experiences, current challenges, triggers, how they’re being dealt with, and future goals. Sessions are generally held a few times a week. In some cases, depending on the severity of the addiction, we do recommend that our patients attend individual or group sessions daily for several weeks.

The first step we take to understand a patient’s situation is to encourage them to talk about their past. We do this in story therapy with the following steps:

1. Creating a List of Chronological Events

Past events can be hard to remember, especially the painful ones that we’d rather forget altogether. Sometimes these events lack clarity, and can be very confusing to recall. You may not be able to remember the exact time or place, all of the people you were with, or the emotions you were feeling in the moment. The easiest way to identify and process each element of these experiences is in small steps. This can be done by listing a series of events, starting with the oldest and leading up to the most recent. This way, you can better see where, why, and how things may have started to take a turn in your life. It especially helps when you can see them visually listed in writing.

2. Filling Existing Memory Gaps

The next step after listing the events is to fill in any blanks that may exist. Slowly, as you begin to recall more and more, experiences you’ve suppressed may be brought back to the surface of your mind.

The more an addict reveals about their past, the easier it becomes to break down these events and understand the reasoning behind them. With this deeper level of information, a counselor is able to identify the factors that have played a role in the patient’s addiction.

3. Giving Yourself Time to Grieve

Allowing yourself time to express grief can give you much needed relief. Most addicts do not like to acknowledge loss and grief because they often associate these emotions with sad events, such as losing a loved one.

However, painful events bring about the same emotions. In recovery, addicts are encouraged to grieve the experiences they’ve lost. These could be close friendships, romantic relationships, or missed opportunities. When these events are identified, your counselor can help you process them, address the core issue, and devise a plan on how to move forward.   

4. Learn and Grow

One thing that counselors at Arizona Addiction Recovery Center understand is that no two patients are the same. Each individual who walks through our doors has different experiences and their levels of addiction vary as well. This is why we offer both individual and group therapy sessions.

Heavy importance lies in giving patients time to process each event that has made an impact on them. This is crucial because it enables addicts to identify feelings associated with each specific occurance. By doing this, they are able recognize the emotions associated with destructive behaviors and why they tend to arise in some situations more than others.   

Group Therapy

While one-on-one sessions have many benefits, we always encourage our clients to enroll in group therapy. This model enables addicts to learn from each other, gain confidence, offer and receive support, and understand that they are not alone. Listening to the stories of other individuals often helps addicts remember their own suppressed pasts and emotions. This isn’t to say that it’s not okay to start your program in private therapy. Eventually, you may find a group where you feel accepted and safe.  

Every person’s recovery journey is unique. When we understand how our past changes who we are, we empower ourselves by knowing which behaviors to change, and improve ourselves my implementing those behaviors to better our lives. If you are suffering from addiction and feel as though you could benefit from one of the programs listed above, call Arizona Addiction Recovery Center today.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 888-512-1705.

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