The experience of recovery is different for every individual. Some will have many ups and downs while others seem to coast through and have an easier time on the other side of addiction treatment. Wherever a person falls on the spectrum, it is almost certain people will think the individual is being selfish by focusing on the self more than others. Explore the process of early recovery and why being selfish in this stage can actually have a positive impact on long term recovery.
Selfish or Narcissistic?
The growth cycle of a person with addiction varies greatly from that of a healthy adult. A healthy adult goes from being an infant to a toddler, a young child to a tween followed by a teenager then young adult to adult. Healthy individuals experience all the stages of growth over the lifespan whereas a person with an addict may have experienced trauma in childhood. This can render a person unable to make it through all the stages of childhood through adulthood successfully. A person with addiction may go from infant to toddler straight to preteen or adult. By the time a teen turns into an adult, a reversal occurs where the person with addiction acts out in immature ways. Many persons with addiction tend toward narcissistic tendencies or being overly selfish as a coping mechanism against trauma.
Purpose of Recovery
The purpose of recovery is to give back to a person what was lost in addiction. Part of the growth process which fell short in childhood is to accept what was missed and how the individual was impaired so as to act out impetuously or in immature ways. Recovery allows a person to selfishly live through the missed stages of growth so as to move onto the next phase of life. The so-called ‘selfish stage of recovery’ serves a temporary purpose of allowing an individual to experience what was missed in childhood, become selfish for a time, and move beyond it at some point. True recovery makes a person strong, teaches self love and ultimately leads to maturity and responsibility as an adult which lends itself to helping others down the road.
Opinions of Others
People will have opinions, both personal and professional, about what should be done in an individual’s life. The most important thing to remember is the following:
- Focus on where things fell apart
- Figure out what stage may have been missed
- Allow time to linger for a time to grow through the stage
Lingering too long at any one stage can breed narcissism rather than positive recovery. The ultimate goal of recovery is selflessness which requires transformation into a mature adult who is able to give back to the world. A person can only give back when there is something to offer. It may take time to get there but it is possible to achieve the goal of feeling selfless.
However you move through the beginning stages of recovery, don’t do it alone. Contact the Villa to find out how we can support your journey to being healthy and focused on sobriety in recovery.