One of the hardest parts of battling addiction is the cessation of rituals. Certain things trigger the urge to use: getting up in the morning; getting into the car; coming home from work. As people living with addiction, we build our lives around their illnesses. It is the centerpiece of our existence.
The rituals of addiction supersede everything. People do them without thinking. Maybe, at the end of the day, they always stop at a certain bar for a drink or a certain store to buy the beer or wine. Maybe they visit their dealer on a certain day at a certain time. Bodies know what they want and how to get it, despite our brains that might be telling us to stop, to wait, turn off. When it’s over, we might stop for a moment and ask why. By then it’s too late- the first step’s been taken.
Rituals are not a bad thing- hey simply exist. They provide structure, give comfort and purpose. Rituals are a way to cope with stress. People seek the familiar, they want to know the rules of the situation. They get up at the same time for work, eat certain things on certain days of the week. In fact, rituals can help in recovery- if we can turn those moments of unconscious action away from illness and into reinforcement for sobriety and recovery, they can be powerful tools.
Rather than eliminating the ritual, replace it. Instead of stopping at the bar after work, stop at the gym. Change the routine. Instead of stopping at the liquor store on the way home, go to a meeting. Find something supportive of your recovery to do. It’s important to interrupt the process and replace it. Start small. Change one thing at a time. Don’t take on too much. Making sweeping changes creates stress and when stress happens, people look for what they know. This is not to say that even small changes won’t be stressful, but it is a matter of level. Big changes create big stress and choosing to recover is one of the biggest changes someone can make. That is why it is important to break it down into manageable pieces that can be tackled on a daily basis.
At Fort Worth Recovery, one of the modalities we use is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The counselors work with clients to find ways to foresee problems and develop coping strategies. The process is effective in helping people find the habits that will support their sobriety. Recovery is a choice. A huge and daunting choice, but there are people who can help develop the skills to successfully change your life. To talk to someone about that first step, call Fort Worth Recovery at 817 382 2894 or visit us online.