Completing therapy for substance abuse takes courage and commitment. It’s not a fast process. You will need to work hard to reverse the effects of drug and alcohol use. And you will need something that might for the moment seem in short supply: Patience. How to practice patience is the question.
Patience is not only important in individual journeys through recovery. It’s important for families and friends to learn and practice patience with a loved one who is seeking sobriety. Addiction is a very powerful force, and drug and alcohol rehab and addiction treatment programs move at an uneven pace. Learning how to practice patience is a gift — not just for yourself, but for your entire family. It’s not easy, but when you learn your way, everyone benefits.
What is Patience and Why is it So Hard?
In formal dictionary language, patience is “the quality of … the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.”
Patience is a skill you learn that involves maintaining a sense of calm, Dr. Judith Orloff, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, wrote in a 2012 article in Psychology Today: “Practicing patience will help you dissipate stress and give you a choice about how you respond to disappointment and frustration,” she writes. “When you can stay calm, centered, and not act rashly out of frustration, all areas of your life will improve.”
Why is Patience Important in Substance Abuse?
Recovery from substance abuse is not something that comes easy, no matter who you are. Excessive use of drugs or alcohol has the effect of rewiring your brain. Your body comes to depend on the drugs or alcohol, and when you start the weaning process, there are physical consequences.
Having the right professional can help you through those physical consequences, but the road can be bumpy. The withdrawal period, for example, may be longer than you’re prepared for, and understandably, you want your discomfort to be over.
At the same time, addiction is a disease that can be controlled but not cured. There’s always the chance of it coming back. In fact, a high rate of people, perhaps as many as 60 percent, relapse in the first year.
That’s why patience — learning how to practice patience — is so vital on your recovery journey.
How to Practice Patience
If only there were one single method for how to practice patience. Patience is a learned skill — how you learn patience and how I learn patience may be quite different. But the experts do give some good advice. According to a 2018 article in the New York Times, professional tips for how to practice patience include:
- Identify the things that set you off. Once you know them, you can work on your reactions to them.
- Focus on perspective. Take a step back from the situation that’s bothering you and understand the bigger picture.
- Practice. Emotions are not always easy to manage. Keep working at learning how to practice patience.
- Be more realistic. If over-scheduling is a problem, you’ve set up a recipe for impatience when something doesn’t go as planned.
- Workaround the annoyances. With the knowledge of what tries your patience, build your day so you are not put in those situations.
Patience is a Virtue
Our fast-paced, satisfaction-now world works for us sometimes, and against us at other times. Patience doesn’t always come easy — especially when going through substance abuse treatment or supporting a loved one who struggles with substance abuse, mental health issues, or both. Learning how to practice patience is important.
At Georgia Addiction Treatment Center, we seek to address all the elements of substance abuse — physical or emotional, individual or family. Our treatment staff provides intensive outpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and partial hospitalization in a safe, comfortable location. We also provide full-spectrum counseling to help you, your family, and friends, take a better path. Call us at 833.641.0661 today for an initial consultation to learn how we can help.