In order to overcome triggers and urges in addiction recovery, I strongly recommend that you use a holistic approach to your treatment.
Now let's talk about what it means to use a holistic approach.
First of all, let's define holistic when it comes to addiction and recovery.
Most treatment programs focus on spirituality, and that is an important part of the solution. But it is not the only part of the solution.
You must also consider physical health, mental stability, emotional wellness, and your social circle.
The important thing to realize is that you could potentially relapse due to a problem in any one of these particular areas of your health.
And this is why addiction recovery must be a holistic endeavor. You cannot just focus on spirituality alone and expect to thrive in recovery. Life comes at you from too many different directions, and you can get tripped up in several different areas if you are not careful.
Therefore, after you have gone through inpatient treatment and established a baseline of recovery, you need to start thinking about your overall health and wellness at some point.
Sure, go to treatment and do the 90 AA meetings in 90 days. It is still really important that you focus in early recovery and build a strong foundation.
But after you establish yourself in early recovery you need to start thinking about long term sobriety.
The threat changes over time.
In the beginning, you were worried on a day to day basis that you might relapse. So you focused hard and went to lots of AA meetings and you fought your way through the temptations of early sobriety.
In long term recovery, the threat of relapse is a bit different. It is not so direct. It is more insidious.
In long term recovery, you can be confident that you are going to make it through today without picking up. No one is disputing that.
And yet, at some point, people with multiple years sober still manage to relapse somehow. What gives?
The problem is that they become complacent at some point. They get lazy. This is how the threat has shifted. It is no longer an immediate threat of relapse, but a long term, insidious, sneaky threat of complacency.
How do you defeat this threat of complacency?
This is where the holistic approach comes into play. In order to overcome this threat, you must assume that you might be complacent at all times. It is an ever present threat, and if you do become complacent, you will also be in denial about that complacency.
This is why you assume. Otherwise, there is no way to known if you are in denial about being complacent.
So don't worry about if you may or may not be complacent in your recovery, just assume that you are, all the time, and then act accordingly.
What does this look like in the real world?
When you assume complacency it sets you up for success, because it will drive you forward towards personal growth. When you assume that you are getting so lazy in your recovery that you might relapse, it will spur you into taking more positive action.
Ask yourself: How could this be a bad thing, to assume complacency? How could it be bad to spur yourself into taking positive action, into making positive changes, into more self analysis and self awareness?
The answer is: It's not a bad thing to assume this. It makes perfect sense. And if you want to explode your level of personal growth in recovery, this is exactly what you need to do. Assume that you have been getting lazy, and then develop a plan.
Now your plan in addiction recovery to combat complacency should have some direction to it. Remember the holistic approach and the 5 key areas? These are the areas in which you should examine your life in terms of personal growth. Or rather, the 5 areas of healthphysical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and socialare the lens through which you should view your current issues or hang ups.
It is beneficial to do self analysis and look for the pain points in your life today. This is the quickest way to make high impact changes in your life and feel as if you have made a lot of progress in a short amount of time.
When you first get clean and sober, there is often a number of pain points in your life that you may not even be aware of. For example, when I first got sober, it took me a few months to realize that I was still engaging in toxic self pity, and I had been doing so for several months without even knowing about it.
My brain was using an old loop that it used to use during my addiction. I would feel sorry for myself as a way to justify my addiction. Now that I was clean and sober, I had no use for this old loop of self pity, but my brain did not know that detail yet. So it just kept playing the same old tape in my head in order to justify more drug or alcohol use.
In that sense, I had to reprogram my mind and learn how to recognize the self pity loop, put a stop to it by practicing gratitude, and also to make the decision that I would have zero tolerance for self pity. I had to make the same sort of mental decision when it came to reminiscing about the good times of my addictionthere was absolutely no benefit to doing so, and it made me miserable. So I had to make the decision that if I noticed my mind doing that, I would shut it down immediately.
That was part of my mental health in early recovery and learning to deal with the obsession and the compulsion of my addiction.
But there were other parts of my health that needed to be addressed.
I essentially left all of my using friends and drinking buddies to find a new peer group in recovery that was more positive. I started socializing with healthy people instead of addicts and alcoholics.
I started praying, meditating, and practicing gratitude daily.
I started exercising and working out, moving my body in healthy ways, eating better food, getting solid sleep each night.
I started taking care of myself in all of these different ways. Of course I did not make all of these changes overnight. It took time to start learning how to heal my life in so many different ways. That is because I had so many different pain points.
I was out of shape, lousy sleep habits, still smoking cigarettes, and generally a physical mess. So I had to learn to take care of myself again physically.
And I had to learn how to take care of myself again mentally. And spiritually. And emotionally. And socially.
And this is the holistic approach to addiction recovery. You must learn to take care of yourself in all of these various ways as you maintain your sobriety.
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