What is a personality change?

The idea of a personality change can be a scary prospect for many people, especially those who have no idea really what it means and feel they have no control over exactly how it happens.

This is the scenario that quite often applies to people who enter a rehab, normally to deal with a problem connected with alcohol/alcohol dependency. Upon entering a rehab, they will be told either directly or indirectly that the problem is not so much alcohol, it is them as people.

Hopefully the message that they get in a rehab will not be a judgemental one. Judgement of a person will block any chance of them being able to change.

If and when a person admits that they have a problem with alcohol or drug addiction, it often seems a fairly hopeless admission, in that it seems the end of the road ,the end of a line.

Quite often when the person reaches a stage of admitting that they have a problem, there is at the same time some type of a solution offered to them, even if it’s not a solution they particularly welcome or like.

The solution may be the offer of being taken to an AA meeting, or an NA meeting or possibly a residential stay in a rehab/treatment center.

The offer of residential treatment may come by way of an intervention, or simply a fait accompli by family members or an employer.

Whichever way it comes, the alcoholic will at some level be aware that a transition is taking place, and they are in effect moving from one direction to another.

A rehab will have a number of structures and therapeutic practices in place which will become the world that an alcoholic lives in for a fixed period of time whilst in treatment, in a rehab.

A big part of the purpose of this structure and the therapeutic practices will be to create an environment in the rehab that both feels safe, and will help give an alcoholic an insight into the emotional traits that underly their alcoholism and fuel their drinking.

The idea of a personality change in terms of recovery from alcoholism originated pretty much with the book Alcoholics Anonymous and the early recovery movement that took its name from the book.

The idea was to impress upon people that what needed to change was them, not conditions that they might have blamed for their drinking, or believed were the cause of their drinking. It is this notion that it is the inner world of a person that needs to change, that is really significant, whether this realisation comes whilst in a rehab, or in an AA meeting, or post recovery when the alcoholic has left a rehab.

The importance is that it will generate a sense of awareness within an alcoholic that they need to look internally to see what is making them uncomfortable, rather than looking externally, and blaming the situation around them for how they are feeling, or for a desire to drink.

It is quite likely that a rehab will prove to be an uncomfortable environment in many ways for an alcoholic or drug addict, especially in early recovery. This will most likely be because they may well not have had much of a choice about going into treatment, and feel they have lost control of what is happening to them.

A rehab can do much good in many ways, but it can also damage an alcoholic if they do not recognise this loss of control, and do what they can to minimise its impact and give the alcoholic back a sense of control over their own life.