In Health and Hope: Advice for Recovering Addicts
There is Hope for Recovering Addicts!
Written by: Adam Cook
Recovering addicts face a troubling ordeal. Recovery means total abstinence from drugs and alcohol, a daunting “new norm” that many simply aren’t able to maintain. The love and support of family and friends can help addicts achieve sobriety by supporting a loved one through a jarring lifestyle change. Sometimes, that support is the difference between success and relapse. And it can help smooth the addict’s attempt to go back to work, re-enter social life, and regain a semblance of normalcy. Confronting emotions and being honest with oneself about the past is difficult for anyone; for a recovering addict, it is essential to embracing the harsh truth of addiction and maintaining a clean and sober lifestyle. Recovery is, in a real sense, a fragile rebirth, the success of which depends on many factors.
Often, a recovering addict is overcome by shame and a desire to withdraw from day-to-day life. The desire to avoid places and faces that remind you of a painful and failed past is a common response, but experts insist that it’s important to re-engage with life and find your inner strength. There’s great benefit to be derived from having a loved one who can help you confront the past, to make sense of your feelings and overcome guilt, sadness, and anger so that you can move forward in hope. It’s possible that you may feel uncomfortable reaching out to someone you know, or there may be too many personal bridges to rebuild for that to happen right away. If so, look to a professional who’s experienced at helping recovering addicts.
Above all, seek out a support group. Many scientific studies have concluded that those who take part in treatment were able to maintain abstinence at a higher rate than other populations and indicated a higher level of satisfaction with their treatment programs. Those who took part in peer support groups also were less likely to be homeless. Clearly, recovering addicts stand to benefit from the support and perspective they are likely to gain from taking part in a support group.
Part of finding support and understanding is seeking out and emphasizing relationships that don’t threaten your sobriety. In other words, you need to avoid circumstances and old friendships that will put you back in contact with drugs or alcohol. It’s important to avoid groups and individuals who make it difficult to break with harmful behaviors. Triggers—stimuli that can lead to a relapse—could arise anywhere, anytime. And they can confront you in the form of places, old and new, and people who are reminders of substance abuse. They could be smells or sounds, anything your brain might associate with drug or alcohol use. They’re temptations that must be avoided.
Yoga and meditation
Meditative exercise is an effective practice for individuals who are seeking to break with a negative past and achieve inner peace. Yoga utilizes mental and physical methods which reach that portion of your brain that’s most vulnerable to substance abuse. It’s a mental discipline that can strengthen your resolve and make it easier for you to resist stress triggers that come up unexpectedly. As a meditative, focusing exercise, yoga is uniquely effective at helping recovering addicts connect to a deeper consciousness. Meditation is another proven-effective, self-reflective means of preventing relapse. A 2014 study revealed that more than 200 recovering addicts who had taken part in a meditation program had a reduced rate of relapse six months later.
Occupying your mind and body with a hobby, or even a new business venture, is a good way to avoid relapse. If you’re fond of animals, consider becoming a pet sitter. There’s always a need for a good, reliable sitter (veterinarians and animal shelters can be expensive and difficult to book). There are significant benefits to being in the company of dogs during recovery; they’re good and loyal friends who can help reduce depression and anxiety.
A painful process
Addiction recovery is a slow and painful process. There are many triggers and temptations that can get in the way of your efforts to reestablish some degree of normalcy, to hold down a job, and maintain relationships. It’s very important to find support from friends, family, or support groups as you work through your emotions and strive to remain sober.
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This article was originally posted on www.papsychotherapy.org February 2018