While some people may be solely introverts or extroverts, it tends to be a spectrum. Still, you may fall closer to one end or the other. Both introversion and extroversion present challenges and benefits for recovery.
Figuring Out Where You Fall on the Introversion/Extroversion Spectrum
Before catering your recovery program to your needs, you have to understand what those needs are. This may include figuring out where you fit on the introversion/extroversion spectrum. When you first get sober, you may not know. A lot of recovery is learning who you are when substances are not part of the equation.
Introversion and extroversion have become known more broadly as shyness and outgoingness, respectively. But they are more complex than that.
The Myers & Briggs Foundation says that if you identify with the following (shortened) description, you may be more of an introvert: “I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act.”
Meanwhile, if you recognize yourself more in this (also abbreviated) description, you might be more of an extrovert: “I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I’m excited when I’m around people and I like to energize other people. I like moving into action and making things happen.”
Making Introversion or Extroversion Work for Your Recovery
I know that I am pretty close to the middle. I get a 1% difference between the two on tests; a friend once called me an “introverted extrovert.” This means that I like to surround myself with friends and get energy from other people, but that I’m also very in my head. Finding balance is a big part of recovery in general; in this case I need to be extra aware of balancing how much time I spend with others and alone.
The advantages I have with being a bit of both are that I do well with support systems but am comfortable reflecting. Both of these are known as important parts of recovery. However, my extroverted side can get restless, and my introverted side tends to ruminate. These are things I need to watch out for—and cope with healthily—in recovery.
People who tend towards extroversion may have partied a lot in active addiction. It might seem like sobriety lends itself to a quieter life, which can be worrisome for an extrovert. But recovery is not any one thing. Knowing where you fit on the spectrum means you can cater your recovery program as such.
Extroverts will do well with a large support system, which is great for sobriety. If you relate to the description of being energized by making things happen, there are plenty of ways to do that without drinking or using. In fact, being sober lends itself to getting things done and being fully engaged with the world way more than being intoxicated. You could try acts of service or advocacy work. You could start your own sober meetup group for any niche that fits your interests.
If you lean more towards introversion, you may take well to some of the more reflective activities often suggested for recovery, like meditation and therapy. However, you might have trouble with formal support groups where you’re expected to open up to a roomful of strangers. It might be more useful to find one or two people with whom you connect that encourage your sobriety. That can be your support system.
It’s important to be mindful of where you get your energy; what energizes you keeps you connected—and able to do the work of recovery.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is hope. Amatus Recovery Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you learn who you are without substances and build a recovery program to help that person thrive. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.