Author: Justin Mckibben
The recovery community has always been made up of people who would not normally mix. With such a variety of unique and awesome individuals, the recovery community thrives with personality and perspective. That being said, there are some very similar elements of our personalities that tend to be common traits among recovering addicts. These may be pretty obvious, but maybe it will help people to remember they are not alone in these characteristics. These are 9 common traits of (most) recovering addicts, if you don’t feel this describes you in any way, please disregard. This is the good and bad, not everyone may qualify.
Anxiety comes in all shapes and sizes for people. Recovering addicts and alcoholics typically fall between the more noticeable extremes of anxiety because the main coping skill we are accustomed to using has been removed, and we are left to develop without drugs or alcohol.
It can vary from the recovering addict who has a little to a lot of trouble with anxiety. Some just have little bit of social anxiety and can’t fellowship with others as easily. Others seem more frequently stressed out by their day to day affairs or insecurities. It is pretty common that recovering addicts experience this kind of anxiety in early sobriety. Then others will have more potent problems with panic attacks and severe anxiety. Hopefully this is something that subsides with the recovery process, but sometimes additional therapy may be needed.
Almost the polar opposite of our ability to emphasize anxiety, once an addict has truly put in an effort and begun to recover from a hopeless state of mind and body, they will also feel new power flow in, and a new confidence will replace a lot of the terror that used to rule the recovering addicts life.
Even though pride or vanity can be a hazard, healthy confidence can help a recovering addict to reach new heights, and believe more in their growth.
Now along with anxiety or clarity in recovery, an addict may also become a little cynical because they can no longer lean on the solution they know so well. So when an addict in recovery is not actively working their program, if they just hit a rough patch, or even struggle with some of the more spiritual concepts they may experience a more critical perception of the world around them and shut down.
Recovering addicts may have a tough time being grateful when they are at their worst, and because a lot of us are used to seeing the darker and uglier side of the world, we have a very jaded opinion of how people are and how the world works. We have to work a little harder to let go of the past sometimes when we live in criticism.
- Open Minded
Open minded people are not always the easiest to come by, but in the community of recovering addicts it is easy to find very open minded and free spirited individuals! Sure, to some degree there is still some risk of people being judgment, because well, they are people. But when you talk to a group of people who have done so much good and bad, and experienced so many diverse life-styles in different forms of desperation, you are sure to find people to be willing to expand their horizons. Being open minded is a fundamental ingredient in recovery, especially when looking at the collage of spiritual cultures.
Whether they are willing to admit it or not, a vast amount of drug and alcohol addicts have some level of co-dependence, meaning they rely heavily on others for their attitude and their happiness. Sometimes recovering addicts and alcoholics go girl/guy crazy, and relationships become their new addiction, but this may not be as simple to spot as you think.
While most often co-dependence springs from romantic involvement, people in recovery can also become very co-dependent on their friends. Having a roommate or a close friend who you rely heavily on it not always a bad thing, but when your happiness and your decisions are all based off of your relationship with another person, it can be unhealthy no matter what the relationship.
Even being too dependent on a sponsor in a 12 step fellowship can be an issue. Recovering addicts should not be giving all their focus to another person, especially when their sobriety depends on it. Unfortunately so many addicts are co-dependent because of the life they had leading up to recovery, and the need to be supported in this state of change.
Addicts are some of the most amazingly creative people, and being an addict myself kind of takes the humility right out of that statement but I’m cool with it. Recovering addicts are so creative in all areas because they have given their minds a chance to realize its potential without being prohibited by drugs and alcohol. When addicts let go of the substances and start to become more aware of their passions and their talents, and spend more time on them, they develop into innovators and inspirations for others. So many recovering addicts are writers, musicians, artists and leaders. We just have to remember we are.
- People Pleasers
Sometimes the skill of manipulation sticks with us, even when we are trying to be more conscious of others. ‘People pleasing’ is a common trait among recovering addicts, and it is basically tactics of manipulation watered-down to try and make others happy. When we change our opinions or behaviors based on trying to please others and make friends, it has potential to self-destructive.
There is no shame in doing nice things for others, but to constantly compromise your beliefs or happiness to make or maintain friends, a recovering addict often puts themselves in a position to struggle out of fear of being judged or abandoned.
Now being a ‘People Pleaser’ is one thing, but being considerate is a strong and empowering trait that recovering addicts display. An addict who actively works a program of recovery is very likely to have a great deal of consideration for others, because through working a program in sobriety they have learned the importance of kindness and contribution to other people. Essentially, recovering addicts and alcoholics must become more aware and appreciative of the world around them, and this makes for people who look out for each other more often than would be expected.
Intuition is a vital part of growth and development, and a pretty common trait of recovering addicts. Becoming more aware of yourself and the world around you also comes with a level of intuition that for recovering addicts that is so strong because of all the things so many have been through. So much of an addict’s life is spent in turmoil and tribulation. We as addicts spend a lot of time trying to read minds, trying to deceive everyone (including ourselves), and on both sides of the law. We do damage and we get damaged in a lot of ways.
Recovering addicts and alcoholics have a pretty unique element of intuition based on the insight only an addict can have on different darker shades of life, and experience in emotional trials or troubling relationships that most people may not know. In this way, our pain sometimes becomes our greatest gift.
Recovering addicts have so many things that make us different and unique. We can spend all our time trying to point out what separates us, but sometimes it is more important to see the circumstances and characteristics we have in common, and help one another see the painful and beautiful parts of ourselves, and maybe learn how to survive through our similarities. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135