Do you remember feeling insecure with yourself after relapse?

Question: My daughter relapsed after having two years sober. She is doing very well since entering treatment a few months ago, but she appears insecure with herself. Do you remember feeling this way?

Thank you for continuously seeking ways to connect with your child and understand the many levels of addiction and recovery your child may be facing.

As a recovering IV heroin user, I have battled with insecurities long before I was introduced to any mind- or mood-altering substances. Now in long-term recovery, I have learned through trial and error that my recovery depends on my self-perception. I have improved my self-perception by maintaining a daily routine, which consists of strengthening my self-esteem, positive self-talk, and learning new ways to build confidence. Studies have shown that people who have struggled with substance abuse, like me, initially enjoyed the effects of drugs and alcohol because they mask insecurities and give a false sense of confidence.

Seven years into my addiction, I had one of my first attempts at treatment and recovery, walking into detox frail and malnourished, weighing a little over one hundred pounds. I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself, so I did the only thing I could, which was to replace the drugs with food. A few months into the process, I gained close to fifty pounds and felt unrecognizable. “Uncomfortable” was an understatement. Not only was early sobriety mentally exhausting, but the weight I put on, in such a quick period, left me feeling painfully insecure in my own skin.

Many of us who are embarking on this journey into recovery discover food can be our closest form of comfort during our most painful times. A weight issue, though, is only one of the common insecurities. The lifestyle most of us in active addiction have grown accustomed to living often leaves us with health issues, dental damage, and scars. We often have little to no work experience, a history of legal issues, and possibly a CORI (criminal offender record information). We also, more times than not, have history with abusive relationships, physical and sexual assaults, and strained or distant relationships with children. For reasons like this, unfortunately, sobriety can feel more like an out-of-body experience. Especially after having some time in sobriety, a relapse will have a person consumed with disappointment and shame, ultimately feeling unworthy of recovery. We focus way too much on the negative, especially in substance abuse treatment. Most days are spent discussing, for hours on end, past mistakes, negative behaviors, and warning signs, with little focus on self-affirmations and positive thinking, or visualization. Positive affirmations in the first thirty days of sobriety can transform thinking patterns and empower positive changes. We all battle with insecurities, but, as is true with our recovery, it is up to us to either control our insecurities or allow our insecurities to control us. My mother always says, “What you think, you become.”

What has personally worked for me may not always work for the next person. If your loved one is looking for positive affirmations in recovery, here are some great links.

Yours truly,

Keriann Caccavaro
A Daughter’s Perspective

Disclaimer: The above advice is not meant to be construed as medical or legal advice. If you need professional medical, psychological, or legal advice, please contact a doctor, lawyer, or medical center.

Keriann Caccavaro is a recovery coach, drug court advocate, and woman in long term recovery helping to support people struggling with addiction and their families. You can learn more about her on LinkedIn or Facebook.

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