Addict, now that’s a loaded word, isn’t it? Addict, addiction, substance abuse, those are words addicts have heard for all of their lives, even before they knew they were one. The word has a negative connotation, why do we still use it in recovery facilities? Because for lack of a better word, it’s short and to the point. If you have had difficulties quitting something like cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, or even something such as video games, you are an addict and should seek addiction counseling if you can’t stop.
The Life of an Addict is No Different Than Ordinary Folk
Truly, why do we call a person addicted to drugs an addict, but a person who is addicted to work a go-getter? Do we call Steve Jobs an addict for working tireless hours building up one of the top technology companies in the world? Jobs gave his all to Apple, and it paid off. The iPhone will go down in the annals of history as inciting a huge technological revolution. He was also reportedly a terrible father, and an insufferable boss at times.
We praise Jobs for being addicted to work, but we don’t praise addicts for being addicted to substances. I don’t want to belabor the point, both are instances of addictive behavior/tendencies, and both involve an addictive compulsion towards an activity that comes at the cost of every other aspect of the person’s life
While there are many genetic and biological reasons that make addicts much more susceptible to the effects of substances than others, at the end of the day it’s the use of such things as a coping mechanism that creates the vast majority of addictions.
The premise is simple, everyone has addictive tendencies, and no one is free from the human condition that drives us to seek out refuge in habits. In other words, the mental desire to be addicted to something is prevalent in everyone, it’s just most unfortunate when that is attached to a highly unhealthy habit as opposed to a good one. A good addiction is physical exercise, but even that becomes a problem when your body needs rest but you’ve become compulsive about working out—which is often tied to poor self-image and a desire to constantly punish oneself to remedy that.
Your Cravings Are Here to Stay
It’s not something people want to hear, but as addiction counselors and addiction recovery specialists, it would be irresponsible to not say so. Many former addicts who have been clean for years still attend meetings and programs because they foster a sense of community and family, as well as solidarity in addiction-related troubles.
Just like how someone who has struggled with losing weight their entire life will always have that temptation to binge-eat in response to emotional stressors, so too will a former alcoholic momentarily have the temptation to kill a whole bottle of liquor even 10 years into sobriety. With time, experience, perspective–and the right training, someone who has been in recovery for a lengthy period can learn to simply observe those tremendous urges and understand their irrationality. In other words, they can detach from them and view them as apart from themselves.
Addiction Counselors in Virginia
Don’t let this article dishearten you, friends. Despite the fact that cravings never go away, that does not mean they do not lessen in severity or frequency. Most people who have been in recovery for many years report that it’s often the opposite which is true. Cravings will seemingly disappear and then startle you in unexpected moments. They remind you that the addict in you is always dormant, but that’s nothing to fear. We’re all addicts, really. There’s no shame in it, and those are the beliefs that Recovery Care Partner was built upon. We believe that love and compassion are what free us from the bonds of mental and physiological slavery in the form of addiction. That’s why we still use the word addict because we don’t judge it, it simply is.
If you are seeking help substance use help or require a skilled interventionist, contact Recovery Care Partner here!Learn More
If you read our post about accountability, then you’d know that regardless of how you came to cope with your stressors through addiction, it’s your problem to fix. Yes, you’ll have help. Yes, you deserve compassion and understanding but know that change starts with you. Proper addiction treatment and counseling are paramount to successfully keeping yourself in recovery. However, all the counsel in the world may not be able to help you if the thing that drags you back time and time again is not your nature, but your nurture.
Addiction: With Friends Like These…
We’ve seen it all, from the most beautifully supportive family and friend groups that help their own through addiction to toxic friend groups that don’t want anyone to get sober. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes it’s necessary to leave your friend group if you hope to start life anew.
You cannot stay friends with your friends who use if you hope to start a new life of sobriety. It’s often one of the toughest aspects of getting into recovery. These are in many cases, people the addict has known for a majority of their lives, childhood friends, romantic partners, even family members. Fellow humans who you’ve shared not just the ups but the downs as well with.
Addiction and Friendships
Friendships and addictions interact principally two ways:
- The friends you had prior to your substance use disorder and/or the worsening of it will pose a threat or challenge to that addiction. Addiction can both isolate you and also keep you entrenched. Many people are not equipped to deal with someone who has a full-blown addiction issue. It can wreak havoc in so many ways on relationships and stability that inevitably, old friends eventually realize they must cut ties with the addict for two reasons. One is to prevent all their time and energy being sucked into the drama that addiction creates. The second is to show the addict that they will not enable their behaviors any longer and that if they can get clean they will gladly be friends once more.
- The second way is that friendship is predicated addiction itself. Unlike the first reason, old friends are left behind. Ask anyone who has been in the grips of an addiction of any sort—whether mild or extreme, if you can find other people to engage in that behavior with you, it becomes a social problem as well. You’re getting your social needs met through unhealthy behaviors. Self-destructive behaviors that are done in social groups end up being far worse because groups inevitably create isolating “us vs them” dynamics. Suddenly, it feels like if you try to go clean, you’re abandoning and betraying the group. Many people try to justify their behaviors by keeping others down with them, this is the “crabs in the bucket” phenomenon. When one crab tries to escape, the others crabs pull the escaping crab back down.
Old Habits Die Hard
Have you ever met up with your old friend group from school or an old job—the people you haven’t seen in years, and much to your surprise, upon reuniting with them you have snapped back into your old self? Years of growth, change, and development…temporarily erased. It’s mind-boggling, but at this moment you should realize that a big part of our behavior comes from our environmental cues. We are far more conscious of what our role is in our friend groups than we give credit for.
Now, maybe ordinarily this would just be a situation where you went from being your socially assertive and outgoing self to being the shy wallflower that you used to be. However, in the case of addiction treatment. Suppose that you’ve been in recovery for a couple of months, things are going great, then you hang out with some old friends who still use…and you relapse. You may feel guilty, you may be incredibly frustrated, but the fact remains.
There are many people in recovery who do end up going back to old friend groups and managing to help a few people get into treatment. They are an inspiration, but this takes a lot of strength and time spent in recovery to get used to the lifestyle and to become resistant to the temptation of falling back into old habits.
Addiction Consulting in Virginia
At Recovery Care Partner, we’ve seen an array of circumstances that people who are in the grips of addiction find themselves in, and we’re always there to provide counsel and proper treatment. One of the things we see often is addicts who are unable to separate themselves from their old social circles where substance abuse is still rampant. Time and time again they relapse because the social and psychological factors involved with being in those groups is too much. This is why we specialize in offering post-treatment consulting and recovery care monitoring—our framework for ensuring the recovering individual has the perspectives they need to best avoid relapse on their own after they leave treatment.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a substance use disorder, please do not hesitate to contact us here or give us a call at (240)-224-3509.Learn More
Meditation, mindfulness, breath practice, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), all of these practices have something in common—they can help people break out of bad patterns and habits. In fact, all of these practices are based on the same idea, which is that we can ultimately choose our own behavior. In life, and in addiction counseling, this is a highly freeing idea. Many addicts can feel as if they are prisoners to their own compulsions, but this is far from the truth.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
As of 2019, meditation needs no marketing. It is the beloved practice of people who are spiritual as well as rigidly scientific. Whether you are a materialist, or you are religious, meditation has a certain secular appeal and well-studied benefits. Prominent neuroscientists of our day are fascinated with the practice and have found a litany of benefits ascribed to it that are demonstrably valid.
While there are differences between mindfulness meditation, insight meditation, and many, many other practices. The basic technique is the same:
Sit for a period of time and concentrate on your breathing. Any time a thought or feeling comes up, simply note it and refocus back on your breathing.
You must be thinking, that’s it? What good will that do? And there’s the problem, you are too beholden to your thoughts. Many people rationalize excuses for why they can’t sit for 5 minutes and avoid doing anything, but the inability to do so is the issue itself. Our mind, whether we realize it or not, is constantly racing and attaching to thoughts and rejecting others. This is exhausting but also leads to people being stuck in faulty patterns.
When you slow down and allow yourself to observe your thoughts without judgment, as if you were someone else, you begin to see these patterns. Pattern recognition is the first step to breaking habits, and addictions are nothing if not a bad habit when put in the simplest terms possible.
Mindfulness Meditation and Addiction Counseling
Addiction counseling is a vital part of recovery and preventing relapse, however, it may come as no surprise that relapses don’t happen in the presence of counselors in most cases. They happen in between sessions when something triggers you, or you’re feeling hounded by the pressures of life. It is in these moments a solid meditation practice can pay off. Being able to get out of your own head and observe the spiraling thoughts, excuses, and rationalizations that can all lead you to relapse can give you just enough mental space to wait for the temptation out until a subsides a bit in intensity.
Just as important, viewing your thoughts objectively and observing the feelings that come up can illuminate just how much you beat yourself up. Almost all addicts feel some sense of guilt and shame when it comes to addiction, and those emotions—while valid to feel, are not helpful to recovery. It’s important to recognize that feeling guilt or shame is perfectly human, but needlessly dwelling on them is not healthy.
Someone who practices mindfulness meditation every day will be better equipped to step out from the chain of thoughts that lead to unnecessary anxiety and self-loathing, both of which are common relapse triggers.
Addiction Counseling in Virginia
Whatever the problem may be, Recovery Care Partner is here for you. Our methods are rooted deeply in compassion and non-judgment. We have seen a countless amount of people come in at the lowest points in their lives, afraid, and without hope, and have learned ways to manage their substance use disorder. It’s okay to be susceptible to addiction; it’s not okay to do nothing about it. That’s why Recovery Care Partner was founded, to help those who suffer from addiction DO something about it. We want to be your partner all of the way through the process!
Don’t hesitate to contact us here and start life a new life today!Learn More