Addiction and Changing Your Ways

Addiction and Changing Your Ways

Go with a friend to the gym. Accountability will often lead to more success

When you are an addict, you must embrace change. As you have seen in your own life, your options are to keep using or to get clean. One of the core concepts of treatment is to rebuild your life from the ground up. This is a messy and difficult process at first, but you will find that you are much more satisfied and content with who you are and who you are becoming.

Embrace healthy ways to reduce stress levels

Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Everyone gets stressed. Long-term stress can lead to numerous health problems such as anxiety, depression, heart disease, sleep problems and more.[1] Now that you are sober, the question is what will you turn to now that drugs are not a viable coping mechanism. Remember, drugs do not even help with the problem—they actually make it worse by temporarily numbing you for a while. Exercise is one of the best ways to help your mental health. Go with a friend to the gym and you will find this level of accountability will often lead to more success. You’ll also have someone to talk with, which is a great way to cope with loneliness. Believe it or not, in many cases, being lonely or bored is often a misstep that leads to relapse. If you want to stay sober, you need to spend quality time with others and avoid isolation. Professor Peter Cohen states that if we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find – the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe.[2] Connection – specifically social connection – is a great way to help your sobriety.

Participate in fun activities and hobbies that excite you

In some cases, the reasons some start abusing drugs is often rooted in a need for excitement, joy or adventure. When you are in recovery, as an individual you must find other ways to fulfill these areas of your life. A hobby or other healthy activity can satisfy you in many ways and even help give you balance. Not sure what hobby or interest is something you would enjoy? Don’t worry, just take some time to reflect and think about what you really enjoyed in your past. What did you do when you were younger? What is something that makes the time fly by? Take a few moments to talk this through with your therapist and he or she can help you in this area. In many cases, it is something that comes very naturally to you or is something from your past you just haven’t thought of it in a while.

Talking things through is a great way to find these gems that lie under the surface. For example, maybe you had a passion for photography or writing when you were younger. But over time, you just pushed it aside because of other activities. Maybe you stopped a hobby because you were worried about how others would perceive you because of it. Don’t worry about how others think about this hobby. It could be baseball card collecting or playing board or video games. This is an activity just for you. The great thing is now you can find others who have the same interest — likely even in your town. Just keep in mind that you want to be sure that any group you meet with is an encouragement to your sober life. You definitely wouldn’t want to join a group that meets in a bar, for example. For this reason. you need to be very careful with sports and sporting events. Anything that could be a trigger — that is something that reminds you of substance abuse — is something you should be extra sensitive to, especially in the early stages of recovery.

Build healthy routines over time

All of this can sound a little overwhelming when just starting out in the recovery process. Use what you learned in treatment to build a schedule with healthy routines and do not do this on your own. Get help from your support network. Talk through how you feel with your therapist and this will also help you become more aware of how you really are handling things. You can always say, “I’m fine,” but not mean it. Having open, honest conversations with your therapist can truly change your life because you will not have to keep how you feel buried inside from everyone else. It will likely take time to get to this point in your therapy, but don’t be afraid to start small. Tell your therapist just one thing about how you feel or what you are thinking and then build from there.

Focus on being present

Instead of floating through life with clouded judgment, now you can be fully present. Now you can take time to enjoy many areas of life ignored while under the influence. Most addicts spend the majority of their time either getting high or wanting to get high. Now you can focus on the little things that really add value to life and also be completely present in conversation to listen to others and to help others.

Remember that recovery is a step-by-step process, so it does not happen overnight. You must continually grow and learn, and not beat yourself up in the process. If you have any questions about sobriety or how you can build healthy routines for your sober life, please call our toll free, 24-hour helpline. Our counselors understand how you feel and will be glad to answer all of your questions.


[1], Chronic Stress Puts Your Health at Risk

[2], 4 Disorders that may Thrive on Loneliness, Asatryan, Kira.

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