Helping Yourself (And Others) Beat Substance Abuse

You’ve reached the point where you can admit you have a problem — and that you want to get better. There have been too many blackouts, fights, lost money, and really bad decisions. You are finally ready to come clean.

But there’s a reason they call this an addiction, not a hobby. Getting past substance abuse can be very difficult. There are physical addictions, psychological addictions, friends as enablers, and more blocking your way. And when it comes to fighting substance abuse, your first 90 days are crucial.

To be successful here, you first have to understand why people fail when trying to beat substance abuse. Then you have to make some changes to daily routines to make staying clean a habit you can keep up.

Why People Fail

Getting past substance abuse is hard to do. First of all, this is probably not something you’ve been doing for just a few days. Substance abuse normally takes its toll for months and years before you finally get to where you can want to change, nevermind try it. That means you have built your life either to accommodate it or revolve around it. Making such a big change to your life would be hard for anyone to do, but no one said the change would be easy.

But it’s more than just being used to having drugs or alcohol in your life. Chances are, you have a lot of friends (and maybe even family) who abuse these substances as well. Even if they don’t realize it, they will try to drag you back to your addiction. If someone was constantly flaunting chocolate cake in your face, wouldn’t you want a bite too? If you don’t have a proper support group, the odds of relapse are higher.

Given the physical and mental damage these things do to you, it’s also common to feel like you’re incapable of doing things right. You can fear withdrawal symptoms. You can even have unrealistic goals or expectations. Whatever the reason, it’s hard to beat.

Setbacks are inevitable due to the nature of addiction, but even something as simple as not being mindful of your substance abuse could make things difficult. Obviously you are aware of your actions, but are you trying to figure out the reasoning behind it? Becoming aware of your triggers enables you to see the process happening, and how it is leading you to a place you’d rather not go. Practicing mindfulness shows you that you have a choice in the matter — substance abuse doesn’t have to define you.

Changes To Everyday Routines

Some people think that overcoming substance abuse means making one giant change to your life. It’s not really like that. Instead, it’s more like making many smaller changes throughout your life. You can beat the odds — and your substance abuse — by focusing on making changes to your daily routines and rituals. Here are some ideas:

  • Add even a small amount of exercise every day: Exercise helps you feel a natural high from endorphins, but getting healthier can also improve you mood and outlook.
  • Find something to be grateful for at the end of the day: This simple technique helps you remember why you want to beat substance abuse in the first place.
  • Make your bed every morning: It might be a small act, but it’s one that you can easily do and still feel a sense of accomplishment.
  • Take time to become more mindful of your substance abuse by listening to music, journaling, meditating, or simply taking a time out free of electronics and distractions.
  • Get organized. If your surroundings are overly messy and cluttered, you’ll feel stressed and unfocused. Take some time to declutter your living space. Sort items you want to keep, donate, or put in storage. Once your space is cleaned up, you’ll feel more relaxed and clear.
  • Stay hydrated and eat better: You are more likely to beat your addiction if you are healthier. Eat right, and drink plenty of water.
  • Make to-do lists to add structure to your day: A big enemy right now is boredom and chaos. Fight both by making lists of your activities to get done each day.

When It’s Not Your Problem

But what if you’re not the one with the substance abuse problem? What if you know someone who is in the grip of addiction and needs help?

First, remember that any addiction is an actual disease, not something that’s a choice. Keeping that in mind, you should probably start by getting your loved one the medical attention they deserve. Since this is a disease, you need medical care to help defeat it. Many times, this translates into a detox setting with counseling and therapy. Both are needed to help with the withdrawal symptoms and initial complications.

Getting through an addiction is not an easy task. It will take a lot of work, and some people fail on the first try. Whether it’s you that has the addiction or someone you love, the key is to keep trying until you can finally overcome substance abuse.

 

 

Article by Constance Ray.

Constance started Recoverywell.org with the goal of creating a safe place for people to share how addiction has affected them, whether they are combating it themselves or watching someone they care about work to overcome it. The goal is to share stories of hope from survivors who know that the fight against addiction is one worth having, because no matter how it affects you, life can get better.

Picture courtesy of Pixabay.

 

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