Self-reflection is a key part of treatment for addiction; discerning who you are, and why you are an addict, is essential to pinpointing the steps to a sustainable recovery. Journaling is an excellent way to reflect upon your personal progress while undergoing treatment for addiction. A notebook and pen combine to create an additional (be it, much smaller) addiction treatment centre – as any programme, you will get out of it what you put in. Below are some tips to ensure that you receive the most out of journaling.
If you make writing a part of your everyday life – as quotidian as having your morning coffee – your practice will be effective. Choose a time when you are usually free – maybe in the hours before dinner and bed – and open your journal at this time every day. This ensures that writing will become a habit. Thirty minutes is all you need, and less will do if you are pressed for time.
Being honest in your journaling is a commitment you must make. Start with the mundane: what did you eat for lunch? The act of writing candidly about your day can help break habits of self-denial and lying to oneself. Moreover, a personal journal is a safe environment; no one has to see what you have written.
Though you should take some time before returning to earlier entries, be sure to reread what you have written; writing is meant to be read, even by its author. As a reader, you can invent distance between you and the writer; by thinking of yourself (the “I”) as the protagonist, what can you understand about this person that you might not otherwise be able to? Rereading your work can help you gain perspective on your progress while in or out of an addiction treatment centre, and better understand how you have grown while receiving treatment for addiction.
Finally, the act of journaling is a way to create simultaneous closeness and distance; by being honest with yourself you can come to know yourself better. As a reader, you are given the chance to see yourself from the view of an outsider, and perhaps bring some objectivity to an evaluation of what you, as a recovering addict, need.