Content reviewed by Christian Losch, LCSW, LCADC, CEO of Pinelands

While living a healthy, sober life after active addiction is freeing in many ways, sometimes one’s memories of their life while in addiction can hold them back from further growth. Unfortunately, reconciling with the past requires continuous work and commitment, no matter where an individual might be along their recovery journey. Despite this knowledge, there are various ways that people are able to work through their past to continue their personal growth and development.

There are reasons why the past is often so troubling.

It is common for individuals to frequently struggle with intrusive thoughts involving their past substance use. Due to the new self-awareness one gains through recovery, these memories may seem more real and impactful than ever before. Rather than suppressing these memories (and the feelings that often accompany them), individuals experience the full extent of the memories and emotions in a way that may now feel overwhelming. Processing these memories in a new way can prove to be more challenging than one may suspect.

If left unacknowledged, these persistent memories can prohibit an individual’s future growth in recovery. Considering that one can never change their past, it may feel daunting when these memories come up. However, there are many ways to begin processing the past and moving forward with recovery.

It is possible to move forward, and hope awaits you.

Due to the troubling effects that painful memories can cause, many suggestions have been put into place to help people move past difficult memories. Below are a few examples of how an individual can begin this process:

  • Create daily goals. Each night or morning, it can be helpful for an individual to set a few daily goals to concentrate on for that day. Some of these small, daily goals can include things such as making a favorite dish for dinner, making the bed, taking a long shower or bath or even spending quality time with a pet. Daily goals such as these can allow one to stay in the present moment and find enjoyment in day-to-day activities.
  • Prioritize time to feel emotions. No matter the circumstance, it is important to let emotions be acknowledged and felt fully. However, finding the right time and place to feel these feelings can be difficult. This is why it is essential to carve out time that is explicitly dedicated to allowing emotions to be felt. This process can be accomplished by turning on some music and journaling about one’s own thoughts and feelings. Perhaps an individual chooses to sit outside and watch the sunrise while reflecting upon past scenarios. Either way, ensuring that one has a safe and comfortable space to unpack their emotions will make this process much less daunting. One can begin moving forward by processing emotions that might be related to past addiction-related experiences.
  • Create a story about past experiences. A creative way to begin moving forward can include writing a story about one’s memories. In this way, an individual can acknowledge all aspects of the memory, recognize their feelings, and even gain a new perspective about the memory. Writing them down can allow an individual to separate from the situation so that they can see it much more objectively, allowing them to be more compassionate and understanding towards themselves.
  • Seek the help of trained professionals. Getting support from individuals trained in guiding individuals through navigating their past is always a practical option. There may be times when these painful memories and feelings become too overwhelming to deal with alone, and that is why there are trained professionals available and waiting to help. Treatment modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectal behavior therapy (DBT) are designed to help individuals navigate their past, emotions, and thoughts in a way that promotes healing, self-compassion and forgiveness. They also help individuals work on moving forward with their lives by helping them to learn more about themselves and follow their goals and aspirations in life. Although some may be hesitant to reach out to a trained professional, it is vital to remember that the therapy process does not have to be a grueling one. Instead, it can be uplifting and revitalizing.

Moving forward after overcoming addiction can come with many trials and tribulations. While there are many small ways to mitigate the adverse side effects that these past experiences may cause, seeking professional help and guidance is a reliable way one can begin moving forward and freeing themselves of guilt and shame.

Freeing yourself from the bonds of addiction is such a rewarding experience. However, sometimes your past experiences with addiction may come up from time to time, leaving you feeling shameful and discouraged. Keep in mind that this is a normal part of recovery, and there are ways in which you can mitigate these unpleasant effects. Some methods include creating daily goals, prioritizing time to process your emotions, creating stories about your past and finding professional help. At Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford, we want to ensure that you are given the best tools possible to process your history and continue moving forward. Our modalities include CBT, DBT, group psychodrama, 12-Step facilitation therapy and more. Through our treatment facility, you can be confident that you will find the kind of support and care you need in order to continue on your recovery journey and become the person you wish to be. Call us today at (877) 557-5372 to learn more.