6 Tips for Self-Advocacy in Recovery

Updated on 10/12/23

Content reviewed by Karen Rubenstein, LMFT, Chief Clinical Officer at Cliffside Malibu

Addiction often causes you to feel powerless and lose your voice. Deciding to turn your life around and receive addiction treatment is one of the best ways to get your power back from drugs or alcohol.

During recovery, you may build a treatment network including psychiatrists, addiction treatment specialists, therapists and your personal support system of friends and family. Even though these people will support you through recovery, the ability to speak and stand up for yourself is vital to your progress.

What is Self-Advocacy in Recovery?

Self-advocacy is the ability to communicate your wants and needs while making decisions about your life. It can be a form of self-care, building self-esteem and giving your voice power.

Self-advocacy allows you to communicate your expectations and acknowledge your thoughts and feelings.  It creates the confidence to be independent which is essential in recovery. Here are six tips to help you better advocate for yourself while in recovery.

1. Learn About Yourself

Addiction strips away your sense of self, you may find your actions are not consistent with the person you thought you were.  After you go through detox and withdrawal, you may experience an uncomfortable feeling of not knowing who you are without drugs or alcohol.

Recovery is a fresh chance to get to know and create yourself, an essential part of self-advocacy. Learn your weaknesses, triggers, strengths and the integral parts of yourself. Know that this process will take time, as self-discovery is a lifelong journey, as is recovery.

2. Create Your Own Goals for Recovery

Goal setting is beneficial for your progress in both early and long–term recovery. You may work with your treatment team to create broad goals, including safely stopping drug or alcohol use, medication management and maintaining a sober lifestyle.  Your recovery journey is your path, so create personalized goals.

Goals give you something to strive for and add a sense of structure to your life which is important for relapse prevention. If you are new to recovery, take it easy and start with small goals.  Work towards larger goals as you make progress in recovery. If you are in long-term recovery, challenge yourself by setting goals that you can accomplish with hard work.

3. Speak Up

Communication skills can be developed through therapy. Learning to speak up for your goals, needs and wants helps you build self-confidence and improve your self-esteem.

At times, you may feel that a treatment option or medication isn’t benefiting you. Being able to respectfully and clearly articulate these concerns may show others that you are serious and dedicated to your treatment and recovery. Open communication between all providers and people involved in your recovery decreases the likelihood of confusion.

4. Educate Yourself

Learn as much as you can about your addiction and mental disorders. Arming yourself with information is essential to self-advocacy. There are many resources including books, research articles and videos available that can give you credible knowledge about addiction and mental health.

Learn about different treatment options that are proven to be beneficial to your specific disorder. Find information about your medications and ask your prescribing psychiatrist questions during your visits. Know your rights as an addiction treatment patient. Understand what services may benefit you and what to expect regarding your care.

5. Build Relationships

Surround yourself with people who support your recovery and want the best for you. Maintain relationships with your treatment team, peers and psychiatric team. These people are committed to helping you stay sober each day.

Actively participating during appointments, meetings and group activities demonstrates that you are making an active effort towards change. Quitting substances requires an entire lifestyle change.

The people that you spent time with while using substances may have influenced your addiction. Substance use might have been the core of your relationship. Going forward, you may need to build new relationships with people who have your sobriety at heart and won’t trigger a potential relapse.

6. Believe in Yourself

You may have learned the right tools to help you maintain a sober lifestyle. However, recovery is difficult to achieve if you don’t believe that you can accomplish it.  You will be the one to decide every day to leave drugs, alcohol and any harmful coping strategies behind. Believe that you are strong and dedicated to creating a better life for yourself.

Not every day in recovery will be easy, especially in the beginning. Your therapists, treatment team, friends and family will all be cheering you on. Include yourself in your support group and become your own cheerleader.

Cliffside Malibu is a luxury addiction treatment facility that offers high-quality and compassionate care. Our programs can offer you the chance to leave your substance use in the past and learn how to step into your power through the creation of a sober life. Addiction doesn’t have to steal your voice or power forever. In life, you must learn how to forgive yourself for your past mistakes and put the effort into changing for the better. Decide to get your life back on track by committing to a treatment center dedicated to helping you grow and recover from life after drugs. During our patient’s time here at Cliffside Malibu, we help them develop life skills that they can use as they create a drug-free life. If you or a loved one needs a safe professional addiction treatment center, contact Cliffside Malibu at (855) 403-5641 to start your recovery journey today.