24/7 Support Line - Call Now
Free Insurance Verification
Verify your treatment coverage

The Importance of Self Awareness in Recovery

Self awareness is a conscious awareness of your thoughts, behaviors, habits, emotions, and responses that often reside in the subconscious. The importance of self awareness in recovery is evident in treatment programming that works to bring dysfunctional subconscious thought processes to the conscious areas of the brain, where you can work to change them.

4 Minute Read | Published Sep 17 2023 | Updated Mar 09 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by

The importance of self-awareness in recovery can’t be overstated. Here’s why it’s essential.

How the Brain Manages Mental Functions

Your brain manages a large number of mental functions without needing to consciously think about them. From scratching an itch and blinking your eyes to eating food and driving to the grocery store, your brain works as if it’s on “auto-pilot.” Relegating these functions to the subconscious frees up space for long-term planning and learning.

But when you’re in recovery, paying attention to your automatic thoughts, emotions, and behaviors is crucial, and the importance of self-awareness in recovery lies in its power to help prevent relapse through consciously thinking about the thoughts and emotions that lead to you drink or use drugs.

How Does Alcohol Affect Self Awareness?

Alcohol and drug addiction lead to dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns, including denial, and it removes your ability to control your emotions and focus your attention. The cravings that come with addiction are powerful, and they overwhelm your conscious thoughts and lead you to use drugs and alcohol without thinking much about it. To answer the question, how does alcohol affect self-awareness, it’s important to understand that alcohol affects your ability to think clearly and to direct your conscious attention to your emotions and what lies behind them.

Emotions and Addiction Recovery

Thoughts and emotions are constantly bombarding our brains. We often neglect to question these automatic thoughts and feelings, which can lead to automatic behavioral responses. For example, when you’re stressed out, you may automatically reach for drugs or alcohol to relieve the stress. Most of our habits are governed by our sub-conscious, including compulsive drug and alcohol use.

The importance of self awareness in recovery is fueled by the necessity to question our motivations and habits and become aware of the emotions and thought patterns that lead us to engage in unhealthy behaviors. Emotions and addiction recovery have a lot to do with each other because it’s often our negative emotions that lead to drug and alcohol abuse.

How to Develop Self Awareness

Developing self awareness in recovery is essential for long-term success. Becoming aware of your thought processes and emotions and the behaviors they lead to is the first step in re-training your brain to respond to thoughts and emotions in healthier ways. But how do you become conscious of your sub-conscious thought and behavior patterns?

In treatment, a great deal of time and energy is spent examining the importance of self awareness in recovery and developing the skills that lead to higher self awareness. A number of techniques are used in treatment to help you become more self aware. The most common include:

Meditation. Meditation is the practice of letting go of conscious thought so that you can become aware of your brain’s processes on a deeper, subconscious level. Regular meditation helps you filter out the “noise” that’s constantly bombarding your brain so that you can access the a deeper understanding of and connection to your thoughts and feelings.

Journaling. Writing about your thoughts and feelings sheds a brighter light on them so that you become more aware of how you’re feeling and why. The act of writing about your emotional states requires you to think about and access buried emotions, and the more you write about them, the more clear they become.

Therapy. Therapy in treatment is largely focused on helping you identify dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns that you’re unaware of, and it helps you identify and evaluate your beliefs so that you can discard those that don’t serve you well. As you examine your thought processes, you become more aware of why you think the way you think and behave the way you behave. This helps you change unhealthy ways of thinking and behaving.

The importance of self awareness and mindfulness in recovery can’t be overstated. Self awareness improves your chances of successful recovery, and it can improve your relationships, your emotional states, and your quality of life and sense of wellbeing.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at (800) 429-7690.


bullet Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003)
"The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 822-848"
Retrieved on November 08, 2017
bullet Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2005)
"Substance Abuse Treatment: Addressing the Specific Needs of Women. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 51. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US)"
Retrieved on November 08, 2017
bullet Drake, R. E., O’Neal, E. L., & Wallach, M. A. (2008)
"A Systematic Review of Psychosocial Research on Psychosocial Interventions for People with Co-occurring Severe Mental and Substance Use Disorders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 34(1), 123-138"
Retrieved on November 08, 2017
bullet Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003)
"Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(2), 144-156"
Retrieved on November 08, 2017
bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse (2020)
"Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)"
Retrieved on November 08, 2017
bullet Riggs, N. R., Chou, C. P., Li, C., & Pentz, M. A. (2007)
"Adolescent to emerging adulthood smoking trajectories: When do smoking trajectories diverge, and do they predict early adulthood nicotine dependence? Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 9(11), 1147-1154"
Retrieved on November 08, 2017
bullet Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2019)
"The Role of Self-Help and Mutual Support Groups"
Retrieved on November 08, 2017
bullet White, W. L. (2012)
"Recovery Management and Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care: Scientific Rationale and Promising Practices. Pittsburgh, PA: Northeast Addiction Technology Transfer Center, Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center, Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health andIntellectual disAbility Services"
Retrieved on November 08, 2017

Related Articles

10 Benefits Of Staying Sober During The Holidays Updated: Mar 08 2024 The holiday season brings stress for everyone, but when you are in recovery from alcohol abuse or drug addiction, the temptation to relapse can be very...
Sober Vacation Ideas and Travel Destinations Updated: Mar 09 2024 Recovering from an alcohol addiction changes many things about one’s life. One of the things that change is your holiday making and traveling. The initial thought...
Reasons to go to AA Updated: Mar 07 2024 Are you an alcoholic? Have you asked yourself, “do I need to go to AA?” There are several reasons to go to AA....

Free Insurance Verification

Our team is available to guide you through the steps of assessing your insurance coverage for addiction treatment.

Pixel Pixel