Addiction recovery is no easy feat. It takes a huge commit on your part to learn more about yourself than maybe you ever have before. There are so many things to do that it can be super overwhelming. Here are a couple things that may help you in the process
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not meant as a replacement to therapy. If you are trying to quit an addictive behavior or substance, please contact appropriate medical staff as well as appropriate therapeutic resources. Withdraw can be a life threatening condition and should not be attempted on your own.
1. Avoiding Human Connection
First and for most, Addiction is an intimacy disorder. You Hear all the time that addiction is a disease, addiction is a family disorder, but one thing that hasn’t been talked about much is the idea of addiction is an intimacy disorder.
There is a lot of talk about “secrets keep you sick”. This is absolutely true. But why? Certainly there is a power in naming the pain that helps to release you from it’s hold. A big part of that power is sharing the experience with another human. To walk this path alone is to vere off the path, sooner rather than later.
On the other side of things, if you’re curious about codependency, check out this post.
2. Avoiding Your Trauma, Thinking “I Don’t Want to Use That as a Cruch”
Speaking of intimacy disorder, it’s not something you’re typically just born with (I’m not denying that biology does not sometimes play a factor, but that there are other pretty major factors as well). The non-addicted person has learned in their lives how to connect with others, not just through happiness, but through pain as well. Many addicts have learned that they cannot trust those closest to them for one reason or another. As the child grows up, they learn to feel shame about the pain they feel and turn towards whatever will lesson the pain, rather than a person who cares for them. Addiction is about turning toward the drug or behavior for comfort and support, rather than a person whom they can talk openly with and share their inner most thoughts.
Of course, this isn’t an excuse to avoid responsibility for your current actions. But avoiding dealing with the trauma, in essence, reinforces the addiction. It is recommended that this work be done with an experienced therapist who is trained in both trauma and addictions.
3. Continuing to Live Outside of Your Morals in Recovery
One of the number one side affects of addiction is denials, lies, and manipulations. This is not a criticism. In order to continue doing some of the substances/behaviors one is addicted to, they often begin behaving in ways that protect their addiction. Sometimes that means doing things outside of their morals and values. By continuing to engage in some of these behaviors, you are setting yourself up for failure. If your values tell you that honesty is important, but you find yourself continuing to lie to a love one (whether directly or through omission) the guilt eventually catches up and you need a release, which tends to come in the form of using or acting out.
4. Just Quit Without Doing Any Work
Of course, each individual is different. But if addiction is an intimacy disorder, quitting doesn’t help you to learn how to have a happy and connected life. Furthermore, a lot of people who “just quit” eventually relapse. And of course, if you survive relapse, it could definitely be used as a learning experience. However there is a such thing as a “dry addict” or an addict who is “living dirty”. Real work = real change.
5. Allowing Shame to Consume you
You’ve done some pretty crappy things, huh? I’m not going to sit here and try to give fake reassurances that you haven’t hurt people over time. But I will tell you that you are human. So you’ve made a mistake? Okay. Accept that you have gone outside of your morals and heal by righting past wrongs with future actions. You deserve kindness and happiness, even if you have done some bad things. Work with a counselor/sponsor/someone you trust to help you work through some of this shame and discover the true you again. You in active addiction doesn’t define you. Who you are in recovery is more of an accurate representation.
6. Becoming Over Confident or Complacent
Lot’s of people go into recovery saying they are never going to _______ again. And that is a great and honorable goal. However one of the main symptoms of addiction is denial and inability to control the addiction. Simply deciding to be done, quite frankly, isn’t enough. When you find yourself thinking you have control over it, celebrate how far you have come, and then do an inventory on the work you are doing. Over confidence is a breading ground justifications.
7. Having a Closed Mind
There are tons of ways that being closed minded can affect your recovery. Your willingness to engage in certain treatments or support groups, for one.
If you’re hearing from multiple sources that you would benefit from some boundary work, then maybe that’s worth looking into. It doesn’t mean they are right, but it could mean that it is worth seriously considering and thinking about.
Another is being able to hear a loved one say, “you seem off.. I fear you’re heading towards a relapse”. That’s a major “ouch”. But often times loved ones see it first.
8. Ignoring the value of spirituality (this does not mean religion).
I think one of the biggest struggles is that 12 step programs are largely based in Christianity. And of course the biggest responses to that is that God can mean many things “good orderly direction”, nature, whatever you want. And trust me, I get tired of hearing that myself. Because everyone wants to feel included. Everyone wants to know that they can go to a support group where you may meet other people who are Wicca or atheist, or jewish, or whatever and know that they won’t be judged in that.
There for sure is a real need for growth in this area. I see that, I hear that, and I agree with that.
HOWEVER, we can only work with what we got right now. 12 step meetings are undoubtedly the most accessible support group around for addiction. And sometimes what’s important is the message, not who the message is from.
That doesn’t work for you? Okay, join some other spiritual group whom you can talk to. Even if it doesn’t focus on addiction, you are still getting a taste of the spirituality that went away with the addiction.
Consider creating your own group that fits your needs more. I have a feeling others are looking for the same thing. Though this may be better done after having some recovery under your belt.
9. Lack of self-care
Let’s take a look at what good recovery looks like.
Meetings. Counseling. Work. Repairing relationships. More counseling. Doctors appointments. More meetings. Reading Literature. Confronting the huge list of things you have put off over time. Trying to learn who you are. Potentially legal obligations. More damage control. Being a parent. Running a household. Trying to figure out how you will get a job when you got a record.
I mean who has time for all of THAT!? It sure is a lot. And trust me, the work is worth it. At the end of the day though, if you are not taking care of yourself you WILL burn out. and when that happens, relapse is around the corner and the work starts over again. (I mean, you don’t lose the things you learned the first time around. But the list goes on, because now it’s time to learn about what you didn’t get before).
Check out this post on self care for more info.
10. Going From Consuming Yourself in Addiction to Consuming Yourself in Recovery. You are More Than Just an Addict.
What are your passions outside of recovery? A lot of people become super passionate about recovery. And trust me, that is not a bad thing. But if all you do is recovery all day everyday, where is the you who is more than just an addict? Is there a you who likes to paint, or go hiking, or go on a date night. Are you passionate about your career or social justice or politics. Who are you outside of a recovering addict?
What have been your biggest mistakes or challenges in recovery?
I’d love to know what you would add to this list. Or even what you don’t agree with when it comes to what is already on the list. Let me know in the comments below!