Individuals who decide to enter treatment for substance abuse issues do so with a great amount of concern and anxiety. For many, it may seem that their entire way of life as they know it is coming to an end, a concept that would frighten anyone. However, after a period during which they are away from their drug of choice, these same individuals come to realize that due to their addiction, they really weren’t living at all. The next critical step is to learn new coping strategies and methods of changing automatic negative thought patterns, among other sobriety techniques.
While techniques such as CBT, DBT, REBT and ACT are all very effective, to be truly effective they need to be practiced daily and on a continual basis. Recovery from addiction also requires doing many small, seemingly innocuous things that assist the individual in coping with their disease. Let’s have a look at some of these small things that can make a big difference.
First on the list is following a healthy diet and exercise routine. The body feeds the brain and vice versa. Too much caffeine, too much sugar, and too many carbohydrates can have a negative impact on the blood and contribute to troublesome levels in the blood potentially leading to serious health concerns. Some form of simple exercise done weekly such as walking, yoga, tai chi, bike riding or weight training serves to ward off many body aches and pains which over time, may lead back to substance use in order to cope with the pain.
Another underrated coping technique is meditation. Many believe that meditation is difficult, however nothing is further from the truth. The simple act of sitting in a quiet room and focusing on a candle flame or focusing on your breath is all it takes. This can pay tremendous dividends for peace of mind.
The quality of a person’s day can be decided within the first five minutes of waking up. If we open our eyes and immediately focus on something negative or look out the window and see that it is raining, we can quite rapidly fall into a funk that sets the tone for the rest of the day. Taking a few minutes to use some positive self talk such as “today I am happy and sober” can make a huge difference to overall attitude.
Another simple coping strategy involves simply sharing how you are feeling with another. Too often in addiction, we isolate ourselves from the ones who care about us, which often contributes to loneliness, anxiety and shame. Sharing helps us to get in touch with our feelings and emotions as well, a very important component in recovery.
Another very easy thought management technique is called the stop switch. When you find yourself dealing with a persistent negative thought, simply imagine a light switch in your mind and mentally turn it to the off position. This will help you equate a troublesome thought as something that you can turn off with some mental imagery.
Coping with addiction does require serious work and effort but utilizing the suggestions above will prove to be helpful as well. Best of luck!
Paul – Addictions Counsellor
1000 Islands Wellness & Treatment Centre