Life is full of obstacles. This is certainly true if you struggle with an addiction. The road to recovery from substance use is often long and difficult, and there will be obstacles that all of us will face, some are common and others will be unique to you and your situation. Will you go over, under or around them? Will you stop and give up? Fortunately, life is also full of choices.
Another might be to call a friend or your sponsor to talk through a difficult situation. Or in times when you need an immediate action to curb a craving, you may want to do push-ups, try urge surfing or use mindfulness based techniques.
Let’s take a look at a few of the techniques we find most commonly occur when you’re new to recovery and come up against an obstacle and aren’t sure how to overcome them.
When you feel anxiety, agitation or a craving building, you can keep it from escalating into an impulsive action with the following techniques:
1. Focus On Controlling You
We have a tendency to spend a lot of our time and energy trying to control things, situations or circumstances that aren’t in our power to control, no matter how hard we try. It’s not worth the frustration, agitation or disappointment. Likewise, we don’t have control over what other people say or do around us, but we do have control over how we react. For example, you may not be able to control your child yelling at you, but you can control your response. Resolve to respond in a calm manner, instead of yelling back.
Other things that you can control are:
- Whether you keep or change your mobile phone number which you know dealers or users can contact you on, possibly causing a temptation.
- Whether you call dealers or those who drink.
- What you spend your money on.
- Where and when you go to certain places.
- Managing other associated triggers.
- Who you associate with.
- Whether you attend group meetings or fellowship meetings, appointments and therapy sessions ect.
- How you start and end your day. Are you using a daily recovery plan to maximise your time and efforts?
- Are you eating and drinking properly (not alcohol)?
- Whether you use drugs or drink alcohol.
2. Practice Mindfulness Techniques – Staying In The Present
Many people spend a lot of time focused on the past or the future. Saying or thinking such things as “I never should have done that.” “What if the judge rules against me?” “What if I can’t manage to sustain it?”and others similar to that.
The past is behind us; we can’t do anything about it now. And, we don’t know the future, so it’s not worth driving ourselves crazy over it. You do however, have control over what you do right now and throughout today.
Mindfulness — or staying in the present moment — is a big component of our treatment program. Focus on where we are and what can we do right now. We don’t want our thoughts taking us to places we can’t control.
There’s a saying “Don’t go into your head alone; it’s a dangerous neighborhood up there!”
There is scientific studies currently taking place to see whether mindfulness techniques could make you immune to temptations. You can find out more about this here.
3. Act With Your “Wise Mind”
We teach our followers to act with their “wise minds” and balance emotion with logic. We have a rational mind and an emotional mind, and both of these need to be satisfied.
Here’s how it works: Your emotional mind tells you, “I can’t deal with this anymore. I just want to get high.” You then pull in your rational mind to say, “You know where this leads and you know you don’t want to go back there. You are going to walk away from the temptation to use drugs or alcohol and call your sponsor, friend, family member.” You could also follow your relapse prevention plan should you have one.
4. Lean On Your Support System
Surrounding yourself with a strong support system is one of the most important things you can do to overcome substance use and addiction.
You know what they say: “A burden shared is half as heavy.”
We recommend joining a 12-step fellowship program or group meetings at your local community based drug and alcohol service. It’s easier to stay on track when you consistently engage with people who have the same ambitions and goals as you do. These various types of program also pair you with a sponsor you can call when you need a little extra support.
5. Try Physical Activity When You Need An Instant Distraction
There may be times when your addiction and cravings are so strong you don’t have time to call your sponsor or even the mental capacity to think clearly. We recommend to our followers that in those instances, to drop and do push-ups until they can’t do push-ups anymore. Or sit-ups, or running or whatever physical activity you can do to interrupt those impulsive moments that are about to lead you to alcohol or drugs.
Exercise also provides you with a natural “feel good” feelings which your body produces naturally when you exercise. it’s also a good way of causing you to sweat and work out the toxins you have in your body more quickly from previous drug or alcohol consumption.
Not all of these methods may work for you and not all of them will work in every situation. But by arming yourself with options, you’re more likely to find the right tool to help you overcome each obstacle on your substance abuse recovery journey.
The more tools, techniques and contacts you have when times get tough, the more flexibility you’ll have when the time comes to needing them.
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