Addiction is fickle. It changes its loyalties, interests, and affections constantly. It evolves, it lies, it deceives. I can be cruising along sobriety road when BAM! Out of nowhere an urge hits. Or, BAM! I’ve developed a new addiction to something else. The first 4+ months of this year have been a roller coaster for me. With my gambling addiction surfacing again and now the strongest cravings that I’ve had in my nearly 16 months sober, year two is proving to be more difficult than year one. Not that year one was any cakewalk, but it seems like this year it’s always something coming up that I need to battle through. A tediously long job interview process, finding a creative way to spend a week in Indy for recovery coach training, overlap in my class schedule for school, too many 1.5 hour trips to the casino, and now struggling with strong urges to drink while having using dreams once again. 2019 has been a constant battle for sober survival.
So what do I do? First, I talk about it. I tell all my supports what I am dealing with. I get open and honest about what I am feeling. I lessen the burden by giving it a voice. Then, I listen. I take in all the feedback, suggestions, and opinions. I listen to what people are really saying and draw information from those with similar experiences. Next, I analyze. I assess the situation and consider all of the input I have received without bias. I write down the most common and most useful suggestions. I weigh the pros and cons of each in a decisional balance chart. Which approach has the strongest possibility of working? Which am I most comfortable with? Finally, I come up with a plan, humble myself and get into action.
This makes sense, right? Clearly it isn’t rocket science but it is easier said than done. So how do I hold myself accountable? In order to give anything a chance at working it has to become a part of my routine. I stop myself and look back at my early stages of sobriety when things seemed so much easier. What’s the difference? Freshness. Routine. Focus. This new lifestyle has seen phases come and go but there is a core set of practices that have been very beneficial to me when used regularly. As strange as it is for me say this since I have never been much of a writer, journaling is one of the most helpful tools in my recovery. And it makes sense that after years of hiding my feelings behind drinks and drugs that talking about my feelings and just putting them on paper would be helpful. Another helpful tool has been meditation & mindfulness. Just learning to let go of all of my thoughts and live in the moment has been very helpful for a guy with severe anxiety. Getting a good amount of sleep and eating regularly helps with this too. Again, it all sounds simple but it’s about practicing the small things. Basic self-care goes a long way in keeping your mind and body on track. Finally, there’s connection. Staying connected with my support groups and online peers in recovery help keep my mind where it’s supposed to be. The opposite of addiction is connection. As an introvert, I can easily seclude myself and I have to make sure that I’m staying connected and inspired.
My addiction is constantly changing. I’ve learned that I have the ability to become addicted to almost anything I do. Keeping balance in my life is very important. It may be easy for most people, but it isn’t for me. I have to work at maintaining a balanced life. My ability to fully dive into something with an unwavering focus is both a gift and a curse. I have to put that ability into focusing on this balance in life. Some days I just get tired of working so hard on something I feel should come more naturally to me. But those feelings eventually go away and I become re-energized in making sure I maintain that balance. Addiction is fickle.