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Advocacy in Recovery

Self Advocacy

When addiction works its way into your life, it takes so much away. It affects your health and relationships, has control over finances, and diminishes your performance at work or school – it makes you feel powerless.

Recovery is how you regain your life. Even though many people may follow the same treatment methods for addiction, no two people experience recovery the same way. Your treatment team can tailor your rehab program to best suit your personal needs. Making your needs known will help you get the most out of your treatment program. Mastering self-advocacy can help you feel comfortable admitting your powerlessness over your addiction.

What Is Self-Advocacy?

Self-advocacy is embracing that belief in yourself and using it to promote what you feel is in your best interest for your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Whether you recognized it or not, you were practicing self-advocacy the moment you reached out for help.

It may be difficult to believe in yourself when you’re struggling. Still, in asking for help, you’ve already taken one of the hardest steps toward recovery. Your strength and commitment in taking this first step is something you should feel proud of. Let that success drive you towards the next, and then the next. Your belief in yourself will grow with every step.

Being aware of your needs and being comfortable articulating them to others helps those guiding you on your path to recovery understand what you need from them.

You can advocate for yourself by:

  • Setting personal goals and working for change
  • Keeping yourself informed, educated, and aware of your rights and resources
  • Making decisions for yourself
  • Explaining your needs
  • Sharing what is/is not working for you
  • Speaking up if someone is unsupportive
  • Standing up for yourself if treated unfairly

Why Is Self-Advocacy So Important in Recovery?

Learning to advocate for yourself is a critical part of recovery and an essential skill to take out into the world.

Along your path to recovery, you’ll work with many health care teams, administrators, recovery leaders, peers, staff, and others who all want to support you. Although many of them will be familiar with your treatment plan, none have your personal insight into your life and your struggles.

Treatment can feel overwhelming at times, and it can be challenging to keep track of everyone and their roles. You may feel tempted to passively accept what each recommends because you know that they are experts. And while they are recovery experts, they won’t automatically understand your personal needs or wishes. Your recovery is your top priority. You’ll get the most out of your recovery when you can let your team know what you need when you need it.

8 Ways to Self-Advocate During Your Recover

It may feel uncomfortable speaking up for yourself at first. Addiction takes away your self-confidence and makes you feel weak. Beginning treatment should be a time of hope, but if you’ve battled with addiction, you know that it also steals your hope. Learning to speak up for yourself in treatment gives you more control over your treatment experience. It helps you gain back the confidence you need to take back control of your life.

Here are eight ways to advocate for yourself in recovery:

Know yourself – Think about your strengths and weaknesses and how they might affect your recovery. You know yourself better than anyone. Keep these in mind as you go through treatment.

Believe in yourself – Your experience with addiction may have robbed you of some self-esteem. Think about times in your past when you’ve achieved your goals or excelled. You’ve overcome obstacles in your past, and you can do it again in recovery. Remind yourself every day that you can do this.

Set your own goals – You’ll have plenty of guidance in setting goals for recovery, but envisioning your outcome and the steps you need to get there makes them yours. Set personal goals and focus on the steps necessary to achieve them. Every step you take will feel like a win and encourage you to keep moving forward.

Educate yourself – Use the resources available to learn all you can about addiction, treatment options, medications, and services. Ask questions about your care and the plan.

Build relationships – You don’t have to do this alone! Reach out to supportive friends and family, actively participate in appointments, groups, and meetings, and build relationships that will continue to support your recovery.

Ask for help from loved ones – Advocating for yourself is essential to your recovery, but having an outside advocate is also critical. Talking about your concerns with a close friend or family member willing to advocate for you can give you another perspective and help you build confidence. It can also make it easier to discuss your concerns with your healthcare team.

Speak up if something isn’t working – Everybody’s recovery is different, and there are many techniques used in treatment. If something isn’t working for you, talk to your recovery team about your concerns. Chances are, they can adjust your care to meet your needs.

Stay calm – If you’re upset or uncomfortable with your care, you may feel angry, embarrassed, or frustrated. It may help to remember that your care team ultimately wants what’s best for you. If something isn’t working, take a deep breath and respond calmly, stating your concerns and offering solutions. Angry confrontation isn’t likely to get you the response you’re hoping for. Still, a calm discussion can help you and your team find a solution together.

Don’t Give Up

The journey of recovery can be tough to traverse; however, the sober lifestyle that it leads to makes all of your hard work more than worth it. The more you practice self-advocacy, the stronger you’ll become. And that strength will help you through the most challenging parts of your recovery.


Begin your life of sobriety today. Bradford’s recovery advisors are available to call 24/7 at 888-762-3740.