Dealing with addiction brings on a myriad of obstacles to overcome. It’s not uncommon for many individuals to fall off of the wagon before finally clinging to sobriety. The allure of addiction is enticing for the addict, no doubt, as it promises to hold the power of relieving many of life’s anxieties (at least for the moment).
So how do you deal with the temptations of addiction? There is, unfortunately, no blueprint to get you through. Much like most monumental things in life, you have to figure it out as you go. Here are 5 practical ways that might help you hang in there though. Sobriety is possible. It doesn’t hurt to give these tips a try.
1. Stay occupied.
Boredom is one of the main causes of relapse. You've heard the saying, "Idle hands are the devil's workshop." That, my friends, is referring to you. From brushing your teeth and drinking your morning cup of joe to walking the dog and setting off to work, you should make plans every day. That way, when life throws you a curveball, it will be much easier for you to get back on course.
If you aren't employed at the moment, you can find things to fill your day. Visit your parents or grandparents, organize your belongings, keep a journal, try yoga or meditation. Some of these things may not seem very exciting, but it is better than doing nothing. The purpose of these activities is not to replace the thrill of the high, but rather it’s an exercise in productivity.
2. Make new friends.
As an addict in recovery, you can't go back to hanging out with the people you once used with. No matter how nice they were, how long you've known them, whether they are active in use or recovery themselves, you have to move on a find a different tribe. If church is your thing, opt for faith-based rehab or join a church group and make sure to take part in their social activities. It's a good way to meet like-minded individuals. The next time you get invited to a work function after hours, go! Make new friends. Join a sporting club, softball, volleyball or rugby. Do you like motorcycles or vintage cars? There are social clubs for those interests too. The point is, find a group that you can feel a part of. It’s always hard to make new friends and suffering from a substance use disorder can make that task even harder, but you have to do it. It is paramount to your recovery to surround yourself with a sober support network.
3. Use your hands.
As an addict you have triggers. What can you do when you see a trigger rearing its ugly head? Projects that require you to do work with your hands can be the best medicine for sidetracking a trigger. Get busy with tending the new garden you just planted. Pick up that guitar you've always wanted to learn to play and learn two new cords. Build a new shoe rack for all of your shoes and then reorganize your closet. Before you know it the trigger has been forgotten and the temptation has passed. You've also accomplished something productive in the process as well.
4. Change the scenery.
If you don't have the luxury of uprooting and moving to a new city, perhaps a new part of town is in order? If neither of those is an option, simply change your stomping grounds. Avoid the places you know you'll find the people from your former life. Stay away from the neighborhood you used to buy drugs. Find a new park and take your dog to burn off some energy, but don't go back to the old park you made your clandestine rendezvous to get high. If you weren't a "beach person," become one. If you prefer the lake, head out to the nearest one and learn to kayak. Don't stay stuck in the house, but be mindful of where you wander. Finding a new piece of geography to explore can also be really helpful when you’re bored.
5. Find your connection.
Even if you are an atheist, you can still have a connection to something bigger than yourself. You lost this along the way in addition, but it’s possible to find it again. Meditation, counseling, NA and AA meetings all keep you grounded and present in your sobriety and can help you connect with your inner soul. Rebuilding your connection to yourself, your community and spirituality is what recovery is all about.
Of course, all this is easier said than done. But everything in life is a work in progress. If you try some of these and see progress, keep trying. Trust me, you can only go up from here.