Knowing how to advocate for yourself while in recovery may feel complicated. However, with the right care team and support system, it can become second nature. Advocating for yourself doesn’t always look like fighting against a system of corrupt leaders. Put more simply, self-advocacy means keeping yourself safe and healthy. When recovering from substance use disorder (SUD), addiction, or other mental health disorders, advocating for your treatment needs and goals should remain your highest priority.
Knowing how to advocate for yourself with doctors may feel tricky. However, a good doctor will consider your overall health, needs, and goals while creating a care plan that will have the best outcome. In this way, self-advocacy ensures that your treatment plan is as effective as possible.
One way you can advocate for yourself with doctors is by being fully honest with them. Part of this honesty involves providing your complete history of:
Treatment plans are often created based on the history of the patient. Thus, providing dishonest answers or not fully expressing symptoms could be detrimental to your health and healing trajectory.
While honesty is an extremely important aspect of advocating for yourself with doctors, it’s also a two-way street. It is equally important that your doctor establishes trust and proves they have your best interest in mind. In most cases, you are allowed to get multiple opinions and find a doctor whose bedside manner and philosophies make you feel comfortable and safe. There are some cases, however, in which you may not have a choice in what doctor works with you. Regardless, you should always be able to make your concerns known, especially if you feel you are being mistreated.
Another way you can advocate for yourself is by doing your research about the doctors and specialists you are seeing. Look up their credentials and make sure their specializations match what you need. For example, if you are trying to heal from a broken leg, you’ll most likely need to see your primary care doctor as well as a physical therapist. These doctors are the ones who would know the proper way to take care of your body so that your leg heals properly.
On the other hand, seeing a hand surgeon for a broken leg wouldn’t do much good. While they may be able to give you some practical advice, a surgeon isn’t trained to know the intricacies involved with properly healing a broken leg. Nevertheless, making sure you are seeing the correct specialists and doctors is an important aspect of any healing journey.
Mental health professionals are great resources to utilize while in recovery. Not only do they help you healthily work through the hard things you’ve been through, but they can also help you identify your triggers. Knowing environments, relationships, or social settings that may put you in an unhealthy mental state is an important part of advocating for yourself. This type of deep self-knowledge is crucial in the recovery journey. The more you know about yourself, the easier it will be to determine the type of care you need to heal.
In addition, a licensed mental health professional will also be able to help you navigate any complicated conversations that need to take place for your healing. This could be regarding familial, professional, or clinical relationships. If you feel you are being mistreated or have mistreated others, a licensed professional counselor can help you healthily process your emotions in a safe place. As a result, this can empower and equip you to express your needs and concerns healthily, in a way that honors your needs without damaging your existing relationships.
Again, it is important to remember that you should feel safe with everyone on your care team. If a mental health professional is making you feel unsafe, make your concerns known and, if needed, find a new person to work with. Keeping yourself safe and as healthy as possible is the most important way you can advocate for yourself.
Sometimes it’s the people closest to us who make it the hardest to advocate for ourselves. Because of this, an important part of any healing process usually involves setting boundaries. This may feel complicated, especially if friends or family members do not agree with the boundaries you have set or do not understand why they’re being set. However, your safety and health are worth protecting.
If you have a family member or friend who is not healthy for your recovery journey, it’s okay to set boundaries with them. You may consider setting a boundary resulting in limited contact or only meeting up in public places. On the other hand, you may also need to enforce boundaries upon yourself, such as staying away from certain environments or types of people who could trigger unhealthy habits.
It is important to note that boundaries don’t have to last forever. While some might, many boundaries will need to be altered over time as healing progresses. If you are unsure how to enforce boundaries or are having a difficult time figuring out what boundaries need to be set, a licensed professional counselor can provide guidance and support.
Here at Sage Recovery, we know how difficult it can be to advocate for yourself while you sustain recovery. That’s why we structure our treatment to be customizable. We evaluate your overall health, goals, and needs as we prepare a care plan for you. Our masters-level clinicians are experts in providing trauma-informed care and treating everyone with dignity and respect. No matter what brings you to Sage Recovery, we will help you find a treatment plan that works for you and honors your needs.
No matter where you’re at in your healing journey, we can help. Here at Sage Recovery, we offer outpatient treatment for adolescents and adults as well as residential treatment for adults. Our innovative approaches to treatment set us apart from other treatment facilities. We provide unique treatments such as equine therapy, art therapy, music therapy, yoga, nature immersion, and horticulture therapy. Additionally, we also rely on evidence-based treatments like EMDR, CBT, DBT, group therapy, couples and family therapy, and individual therapy. Our compassionate and empathetic staff members are ready and willing to walk with you every step of the way. Reach out to us at (512) 306-1394 when you’re ready. We’re here for you.