Living a life with addiction is not living a full life. Those who lived with addiction had individual reasons for getting tied to that sort of life, but there are ways to break free. Leaving addiction behind is like embracing a new life and way of living. Rather than dwell on mistakes of the past, focus on ways to continue moving forward.
Recognize High-Risk Situations
Living a life free of addiction is healthier but it doesn’t mean there won’t be bad moments or entire days. However, if you recognize high-risk situations, or when things seem more dismal than they really are, you can move forward without making poor choices. For example, when you’re feeling angry or tired (maybe both at the same time), it’s easy to paint the entire world around you as dark and gloomy. Yet, as you know, such emotions do not last, and immediate moods and events have a way of getting resolved. If you’re feeling off for a brief period or even the entire day, be sure to recognize the root emotion and realize that it won’t last.
Remember People, Places, and Things Can Be Triggers
As noted, people have unique reasons for having issues with addiction, and while many people are successful in returning to a healthy style of living, certain people, places, and things remain triggers. For example, though you are healthy, a particular person who is still using may be a trigger, whether they respect that you are clean or not. Being around them may make you feel vulnerable, tempted, or depressed. Likewise, a certain park, home, or area of the city may have memories attached and make you feel tempted or sad. You don’t have to completely avoid people, places, or things, but it’s important that you recognize they are triggers so you can stay in control of the situation.
Find New Methods of Reward, Relaxation, and Escape
Seeking reward, relaxation, or escape are broad reasons why people engage in addiction. Such reasons alone are not unhealthy; it’s human to seek those things. However, the negative repercussions associated to using drugs and alcohol outweighs the positives, especially considering there are alternatives. For example, a reward could be a dinner or buying yourself an article of clothing. You can relax by taking a walk in the park or reading a book. You can escape by listening to music or watching a movie. The difference in choosing healthy alternatives is that there are no associated negatives. Realize the reason for using was not wrong; it was the chosen means to those ends that was a mistake.
Honesty is the Best Policy
It sounds hokey, yet honesty, especially self honesty, is the best policy for staying healthy. There is no shame in wanting to get better and overcome addiction. Those who are in the throes of addiction become regular liars, and get so good at it that they lie to themselves. Learn to be honest about your emotions, triggers, and times when you feel weak. Being honest is showing strength. Addicts have to lie because they are ashamed of the truth, which only leads to wanting to escape and using. Learn to be honest and open to others, especially to friends, family members, and counselors who want to see you succeed. There is no shame in being honest. Honesty is a reflection of the truth, and the truth is never wrong.
Play the Long Game
As mentioned, some days will be worse than others. Feeling up and down is common to all people, even those who have never had issues with addiction or entered alcohol rehab clinics. Learn to play the long game; the longer you get from days of addiction, the stronger you become and the easier it is to stay in control of your emotions, actions, and ultimate course of life. When you feel frustrated, focus on how far you’ve come and the courage and strength it took to get to your current state.
Find Strength in Positive People and Animals
Those who suffer with addiction are trying to fill a hole. As stated, it’s normal to seek a positive – whether it’s a reward, escape, or type of relaxation. It’s likely you learned about addiction through other people, whether it was friends who also used or dealers. Similarly, learn good habits from positive people. They can be a church leader, teacher, counselor, family member, friend, or even an animal. We have the ability to learn good and bad things from others, and it’s equally as easy to learn how to be positive. Take note of people who you admire for their positivity and seek their companionship, especially during periods when you feel weak.
Olivia Washington had turned to substance abuse after returning from active military duties in Fallujah. Olivia turned to experts for assistance and has been addiction free for several years now. She sees blogging about her insights as a way of giving back.