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Emotional Growth in Recovery | 4 Traits to Develop

Addiction recovery is about much more than physical healing. A holistic approach to addiction treatment focuses on the mind, body, and spirit. Detox is the critical first step, to cleanse the body of the addictive substances, but emotional growth in recovery is also vitally important. There are four traits to develop in recovery that will help you on your journey to a healthy future.

A Process of Change

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” Social worker and author Dan Mager writes in Psychology Today that recovery is a process of learning, growth, and healing. Mager says:

Recovery from addiction is the process of sustaining abstinence and learning and practicing the awareness and skills necessary to live a whole, healthy, and healed life. These two elements reinforce one another: sustained abstinence creates the opportunities to build the skills that facilitate growth and healing. Conversely, learning and practicing such skills is instrumental to sustaining abstinence.


Research studies have found that those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol tend to have lower self-esteem than people who are not addicted. Low self-esteem is typically determined by their current actions, so that they are constantly in need of external positive experiences to overcome negative thoughts and feelings that constantly influence them.

These types of good feelings only have a temporary effect. However, a healthy person’s self-esteem is based on their ability to know themselves accurately, as well as acceptance of and value for themselves, with no feelings of humiliation and contempt. This means that they can realistically recognize their own strengths and weaknesses, which everyone possesses.

The features of high self-esteem are those in which a person believes he/she is important, and the world would even be better because he/she lives in it. People with high self-esteem believe in themselves with confidence, can ask for help, and trust their decisions.

Communication Skills

Closely connected to self-esteem is the ability to communicate in a healthy, productive way. Emotional growth in recovery depends on being able to develop and use appropriate communication skills. Miscommunication can be frustrating and can cause even more issues for the recovering addict. Being able to clearly communicate fears, emotions, and concerns can help tremendously as you work toward a successful recovery.

Honesty and openness are important components of communications in recovery. Open, clear communication with others helps them to understand you better and helps them know how to help you more effectively.

Emotional Sobriety

Along with your newfound physical sobriety, your emotional growth in recovery depends on your ability to also work toward emotional sobriety. Ingrid Mathieu, PhD, psychotherapist and author, writes that emotional sobriety is “about being in the present moment, whatever it happens to look like.” Sometimes, she adds, it is about tolerating what you are feeling. Emotional awareness and control are virtually impossible when you are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Emotional sobriety helps you “be present to all of your feelings without any one of them defining you.”

When you develop the trait of emotional sobriety in recovery, you won’t blame yourself or your treatment program when your life starts to become challenging as you work through the process of change. You also will be less inclined to “do something” to make your negative feelings go away. You will be focused on staying sober, physically and emotionally, no matter what you are feeling.

Letting Go of the Future

In addiction recovery, you work on letting go of your past. You are advised not to associate with people who are continuing to abuse drugs or alcohol. Your triggers may include places you used to visit when you were addicted. Emotional growth in recovery also depends on your ability to let go of the future, that is to let go of your anxiety and worry about the future.

Stressing over what the future may bring or fearing an uncertain future will only create roadblocks to your recovery. Developing traits of emotional growth, including self-esteem, communication skills, and emotional sobriety will enable you to let go of your apprehension and move forward toward a successful recovery.

Contact BRC Recovery for Help

At BRC Recovery, we know that real recovery requires a total transformation that encompasses mind, body and spirit. Our professional team is committed to helping you with emotional growth as well as physical and mental recovery. We are open to help you during the COVID-19 pandemic, in a safe, clean environment where you will receive the highest quality of care. Contact us at 1-866-461-1759 to learn more about renewing your recovery.