ARTICLES, DRUG ABUSE & EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL. REHABILITATION
Addiction: How to Overpower this Chronic Illness
Addiction is a very strong illness that one never truly defeats. However, even though it’s a chronic issue you will deal with for the rest of your life, that doesn’t mean it can’t be overpowered and controlled.
Millions of people around the world live with addiction every day, but they control it rather than allowing it to control them. It’s not easy, but if you’re dedicated to living a sober life, it’s very possible.
Even if you feel like addiction is in control now, know that you can overpower it by following these tips.
Understand Relapse Triggers and Addiction Cravings
The first thing you have to do is to arm yourself with knowledge about addiction. If you’ve already gone through rehab, you’ve likely worked on understanding triggers. If you haven’t, you can begin your process of battling addiction by learning about them. Relapse triggers are anything that makes you crave drugs. Your brain associates these triggers with using drugs and getting high. For example, if you always do drugs with a specific person, seeing them or even hearing their name could be a potential trigger. Other triggers may include places, emotions, stress, or even a particular song. Anything can be a trigger.
Triggers often lead to cravings. When an addiction craving hits, you feel an actual physical need to use drugs. That’s because your brain is releasing dopamine, a chemical that plays a key part in action-reward behaviour. This makes cravings incredibly difficult to control because your body feels like you must have drugs to feel good. The combination of triggers and cravings is what leads many people to relapse.
Recognize What Triggers You
One of the first things you must do in order to remain sober is to understand what your unique triggers are. Triggers won’t be the same for everyone, so it’s important that you start a list of everything that makes you want to do drugs. Remember that a trigger can be anything, so it’s very important that you carefully analyze what made you feel the need to get high. Many addicts continue to find triggers years after they stopped using drugs, so don’t be surprised if you don’t make a comprehensive list right away. It’s perfectly normal to discover triggers years later.
Have a Plan
Once you know your triggers, you can create a plan to help you deal with them. If you know seeing a certain bar will make you want to drink, you can plan a route that avoids the location. You can find an alcohol-free drink that you enjoy to have at weddings, barbeques, and other events where you know alcohol will be served. You’ll also want to have a plan for dealing with an unexpected trigger. This may be something as simple as calling a trusted friend to talk to or leaving the immediate area of whatever is triggering you.
Be Committed to Sobriety
Having a plan is no good if you’re not committed to putting that plan into action and being sober. You’ve got to be fully, 100% committed to breaking your addiction for anything to work. If you’re not, you’ll eventually give in to your cravings. As a part of your plan to combat triggers, you may want to make a list of all of the reasons you want to be sober and carry it with you at all times. When you feel like giving it, pull out the list and read over it so you can see everything you’ll lose if you relapse.
Accept that You’ll Feel the Urge to Drink or Get High
You’re going to feel the urge to use again. This is normal, and it doesn’t mean that you’re failing at sobriety or that you’re a horrible person. It’s simply something that will happen, and you need to accept that. Remember that the urge to do something is not the same as actually doing it. Most of the time, the urge will pass after about 15 minutes. Just hold out until it does or, if the urge doesn’t seem to be passing, do your best to change your current situation (go somewhere else, call someone, etc.).
Overcoming your addiction isn’t something you can do in a day, a week, a month, or even a full year. It’s a long-term solution, and that means you need to be patient. Over time, your urges and cravings will become weaker, and you’ll find yourself being able to handle them much more easily. They will still be there, but you won’t feel as if you’re about to be overpowered by them.
You may reach a point where you find yourself wondering if you’re really strong enough to beat your addiction. You may even think that you might as well go ahead and relapse since that seems like where things are going. When you find yourself having these thoughts, take a moment and pause everything. Listen to what you’re telling yourself and why you’re saying those things. Look at the root cause of why you feel like you should relapse and examine it to determine what it was really about. By doing so, you’ll take some, if not all, of the emotion out of it. That will make it easier to see all of the reasons why you shouldn’t relapse.
Have Distractions Ready
If you have a craving or have been triggered and can’t leave or avoid the situation, it’s important to have a list of ways to distract yourself so you don’t focus on the urge to relapse. This may be something as simple as taking a walk or reciting a mantra in your head. Anything that helps you remain positive about your sobriety and ignore the craving is helpful: exercise, talk to someone, clean, read, play a game on your phone, bake cookies or any other activity you enjoy.
Go to Relapse Prevention
As mentioned earlier, living a sober life isn’t something that happens quickly. It takes a good amount of time, and you want to have support with you.
Still, if you are finding it difficult to get rid of your old routine, you can take the help of a structured sober living environment. Sober living homes are designed to assist people who are proactively looking to kick off their addiction completely. As they have experts who teach you how to live on your own and give you strategies to fight addiction.
Put in the Effort
Finally, none of the above tips will really work unless you put in the effort to make them work. You have to be a fully committed, active participant in your own treatment. No one else can end your addiction for you — you’ve got to want it, be committed to it, and work at it.
Lynda Arbon is a passionate and enthusiastic health blogger. She likes keeping herself updated on health trends and blogs. Her favourite pastime is learning history and solving crossword puzzles. Follow her on Twitter.