When you or your loved ones are new to recovery, empathy in recovery is generally not a strong suit. Instead, the person new to sobriety needs to be on the receiving end of empathy. This is a crucial element in the establishment of trust and openness to the healing process.
Let’s get clear on our terms: Merriam-Webster defines empathy as the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another. Either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.
The Right Environment for Empathy
An optimum recovery environment puts a premium on an empathic approach: understanding, sensitivity, and awareness are key attributes for treatment professionals, as they facilitate communication on a level that is vital to the recovery process. Addiction is often accompanied by a constellation of attitudes, behaviors, and conditions, many of which actually underlie the compulsion to self-medicate. Among these can be defiance, isolation, mistrust, and denial, all of which must be overcome through a process of communication. When denial is overcome, defiance diminishes, leading eventually to trust and healthy bonding.
For sustained recovery after treatment, it can be highly useful to participate in a recovery community. Here again, empathy plays an important role. Members with a solid footing in sobriety are aware of the emotional pain that the newcomer has been through, as well as the host of difficulties facing them as they try living life on a new footing. Upon leaving treatment, the newly recovering addict faces the challenges of life on life’s terms, without the dubious benefit of mind-altering substances.
Feelings of awkwardness, frustration, hopelessness, anger, and sadness often alternate with a new sense of freedom and optimism. Established members, having experienced these ups and downs—and having been on the receiving end of empathy when they themselves were new—are now able to extend their own empathy to the newcomer. In fact, this faculty emerges during the recovery process and matures as it is exercised, and in the process benefits both parties.
Empathy is a two-way street in the journey from addiction to sustainable recovery. If you are ready to provide your loved one with the help they need, call New Start Detox at 855-737-7363 now to verify your insurance and get more information.