You don’t simply recover from an addiction when you stop using addictive substances. The recovery process is more complex than that. For example, in order to effectively recover, you need to find out why you started using substances in the first place. In addition to that, you must also change your thought patterns, habits, and social circles. True addiction recovery is about creating a new life that makes not using easier than using. One of the best ways to do that is by finding new, healthier ways to cope with life’s challenges, difficulties, and stressors. Let’s explore coping skills further in this article.
Learning to cope with life’s changes is incredibly important for people in recovery. Research has shown that the majority of people grappling with addiction use substances as a coping mechanism. This means that when you’re in recovery, you must give up your old coping mechanism of substance use and develop new coping skills instead. Without learning new ways to cope, you may start using again when you’re forced to deal with the stress and pressure of everyday life. A lack of healthy coping skills can lead to:
Luckily, that doesn’t have to be the case. By developing healthy coping skills, you can learn to effectively handle even the most challenging circumstances.
Addiction recovery isn’t easy. Neither is changing habits that you’ve developed over time. But there are a few things you can do to make your recovery journey a more pleasant, positive, and relaxing experience. These include:
When you first begin the recovery process, you may feel closed off from others. You may even feel like people are judging you and criticizing you for your choices. That’s probably not true, but you do need to learn to be honest with yourself and others. Addiction thrives off lying, deception, and manipulation. Embracing honesty can help you unlearn those unhealthy habits. But you’ll have to be honest with yourself and others. You won’t benefit from telling yourself the truth and lying to others and vice versa. So, tell the truth all the time, even when you don’t want to.
As you get in the habit of being honest, start finding people you trust. Having a strong support network is a significant part of a successful recovery journey. Seek out people you connect with and who understand your journey. Ask someone on your clinical support team to mentor you. Use your time in a recovery program to build a healthy support system. Having a strong network of sober, like-minded friends can help you stay on track and hold you accountable. In addition to that, these individuals will be the people you call and meet up with when life gets tough.
With so much change going on in your life, you might find it easier to focus on the negative. However, to fully recover, you have to stop yourself from wallowing in negative thoughts and emotions, as negativity often leads to substance use. Force yourself to focus on positive things instead. A quick and easy way to do that is to think about what you’re grateful for. Your life may not be what you want it to be, but there's always a reason to be grateful.
You can give thanks for:
You may also want to practice journaling to keep track of your thoughts and feelings as you recover. Journaling can help you deal with negative thoughts and feelings quicker and more effectively. Journaling can also help you inventory your journey and see where you can improve. If your journal entries continually focus on loneliness, you and your therapist can incorporate more peer support and community time into your treatment curriculum. If you’re consistently dealing with racing thoughts, you might benefit from yoga, mindfulness, or cognitive behavioral therapy.
This may not be the case for you, but many people use drugs and alcohol to relax or to reward themselves. If you want to recover, however, you can’t continue to use substances whenever you need to relax. Use your time in an addiction recovery program to learn how to relax substance-free. Some relaxation techniques you can work to develop include:
Physical fitness supports your physical and mental health. Exercising also reduces stress and produces endorphins which can boost your mood. You don’t have to join a gym, but add some form of exercise into your daily or weekly routine. Good exercises to start include:
As you near the end of your treatment program, you need to learn to avoid high-risk situations that might tempt you to use again. Tension and stress can build up when you don’t take care of yourself. When you encounter stress, take a moment to breathe. Wait to respond. Specifically, avoid rushed decisions when you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT). Eat when you’re hungry and sleep when you’re tired. Check in with your support system when you’re lonely. Breath deeply, be honest and try to relax when you’re angry.
Last, embrace a growth mindset. Push yourself to learn new things, new skills, and new perspectives. Read books. Listen to audiobooks and podcasts. Learning new things can greatly enrich your life and enhance your recovery journey. Pick topics that you care about, dive into, and grow into the person you want to be.
Here at Meta Addiction, we pride ourselves on empowering our clients to become the best version of themselves. Our three tiers of recovery services allow us to assist our clients as they move from high-level support to gradual independence. You don’t need drugs and alcohol to cope with life. We can help you recover from substance abuse and develop healthy coping skills. Contact us today if you’re ready for a healthy, substance-free life.