When someone has a drug or alcohol addiction, substance use often becomes a ritual of its own. There might be a time of day or location where they typically use or drink, or they might always perform a certain routine before using or drinking. These behavioural patterns then become strongly ingrained over the course of a person’s life in active addiction.
Being able to recognise these rituals and knowing how to change and overcome them is a really important skill to be able to use if you want a long lasting, happy recovery journey.
They aren’t hard or complicated, but understanding them, recognising them and doing something about them by making little changes repetitively is the key to making these new, healthier changes to stick.
Addictions can occur in a wide variety of forms. Often, it is assumed that physical dependence characterised by withdrawal symptoms is required in order for someone to be diagnosed with an addiction use disorder, but the fact is that behavioural addiction can occur with all the negative consequences in a person’s life minus the physical issues faced by people who compulsively engage in drug and alcohol use.
The rituals that occur before, during and after also make up part of the addictive process. For example, cooking heroin in a spoon and putting on a tourniquet can be just as addictive at the heroin itself. Likewise, visit the local shop, knowing that when you get home in 10 minutes, you can drink. These “preparation behaviours” are just as important to highlight and treat.