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Life is full of obstacles. This is certainly true if you struggle with addiction. The road to recovery from substance abuse is often long and difficult, and there will be obstacles. Will you go over, under or around them? Will you stop and give up? Fortunately, life is also full of choices.
There are many tools you can use to help avoid relapse. One option might be as simple as taking a moment to put things in perspective and realign your thinking. 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.
Let’s take a look at a few of the techniques we discuss with our patients. When you feel anxiety, agitation, or a craving building, you can keep it from escalating into an impulsive action with these techniques.
We have a tendency to spend a lot of time and energy trying to control things. The “Serenity Prayer” is one of the top relapse preventions tools we teach.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.”
We can’t change things that are not in our power 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.
Many people spend a lot of time focused on the past or the future. “I never should have done that.” “What if the judge rules against me?” 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.
Mindfulness — or staying in the present moment — is a big component of our treatment program. We 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 in the program: “Don’t go into your head alone; it’s a dangerous neighborhood up there.”
We teach our patients to act with their “wise minds” and balance emotion and 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 drug and call your sponsor.”
Surrounding yourself with a strong support system is one of the most important things you can do to overcome substance abuse. You know what they say: “A burden shared is half as heavy.”
We recommend joining a 12-step program. It’s easier to stay on track when you consistently engage with people who have the same ambitions and goals as you do. These programs also pair you with a sponsor you can call when you need a little extra support.
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 teach our patients 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.
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.
To learn more about these methods or for a free one-on-one assessment, schedule an appointment online or call 630-305-5027.
Get support from Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.
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