Before I get into this article I want to give you a little back story about myself. I have always had a problem with addiction. I have always looked for ways to numb myself from the world. I started using drugs when I was around 16. It was small things then and I just used it when I was partying. As time went on this started turning into an every other day thing and then eventually every day. I ended up moving up in this world and started using opiates. This is the true start of my downfall and would lead to a life full of pain and disappointments. I slowly started working my way from the bottom and eventually got into intravenous use. I lost everything and everyone through this decade and a half. I have had the chance over the past couple of years to start building myself up to the man I used to be but it was and is not easy. I want to explain to you the goals I set and the things I had to do to get myself where I am today. I am not where I should be but I am where I am. Life can be complicated but if you look at it the right way, there is so much you can do to make the best of it.
Addiction has many faces. It can be food, money, drugs, sex, and so much more. Sometimes you do not even know you are addicted to something until you can not get it anymore and become frustrated and agitated. You also will know if this thing takes up the majority of your life, and interrupts your normal way of life. We can use playing video games as an example. There is nothing wrong with playing video games but once you start playing video games all day and it starts messing with your hygiene and relationships then you might have a problem and need to change some things in your life. This is only one example of many things that a person could be addicted to.
If you read my article Realistic Goal Planning then you remember me talking about SMART.
Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
Achievable (agreed, attainable).
Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
This can be used for setting goals but it can also help you with addiction. It can help you set goals to help break your addiction. Quitting anything is hard but if you are addicted it ends up being almost impossible. The keyword here is almost. Anything is possible if you put your heart and soul into it. Now if you have a drug addiction problem as I did then you will need a little more help. If you do have a drug problem then there are a couple of different approaches you can take. You can call hotlines like SAMHSA 1-800-662-4357 or you can find your nearest rehabilitation clinic. This pandemic has made it hard to find the help you need because a lot of places are not open or allowing people in. If you can not find a place then there is also an online program called Smart Recovery. Smart Recovery is an online recovery help program that is free and has people from all around the world.
Video about SMART recovery
When I finally was able to get clean I ended up using Smart Recovery. You can be Anonymous but also get the help you need. The problem I had when I went to AA or NA meetings was that I had to go in and talk to people. This was not ok with me. I do not like hugging or talking to random strangers. Maybe I am weird but this type of recovery just made me uncomfortable and not want to come back. Also, there is a thing that I learned about called the 13th step. This step is kind of disturbing and talked about how people in these AA and NA meetings would use people with addictions to satisfy their addiction. I do not agree with this because anyone in recovery is vulnerable and in no way ready for a relationship. People who are looking for help need real help not people with alternative motives. Everyone is different though and different things work for different people.
It took me around 5 years to get clean. So all together I used for around 14 years. When I started to see how messed up my life was getting from my addictive personality, it was already too late. I went to multiple rehab facilities and tried multiple different recovery programs. The truth is I did not get clean until I got locked up for 6 months and decided it was time to change my life. Even after my incarceration, it took a little time to get my head together and start thinking differently.
I started realizing that life is worth living. I started reaching out to friends and family and letting them know the intensity of my problem and let them know I needed help. I started going to meetings every day. Meetings help a lot if you know where to go and are not forced to go. This is somewhere you can go and voice your thoughts and talk to others that are dealing with the same type of problem. I think SMART recovery is the best because of anonymity and the fact that you do not have to be in person for it.
Have you ever heard someone say "If they wanted to quit then they should just quit?". I have heard this multiple times from people. Well, it is not as simple as just deciding to quit. You need to change the whole way you live life. You need to change the people you hang out with. You need to change your routines. You need to change your thought process. Sometimes people want to stop doing what they are doing but have gone so far off the beaten path that they do not even know where to start. It can be extremely hard sometimes to quit your addiction, sometimes what it will take is a life-altering event to change things. If it was not for me getting locked up I might have never changed my life. I always wanted to but had dug my life so far down a deep and dark hole that I had no idea how to get out. I am not saying to go do something illegal so you get arrested or that incarceration is your ticket to an addiction-free life. I am just saying that it was one of the factors that helped me. I was put into a drug program which helped a lot because they helped me get a job and find the right help for me. It was not easy. This was supposed to be a 2-year program and it ended up taking me 5 years altogether.
If you are having a problem with some sort of addiction then I suggest you reach out to people you know and ask for help. If you are uncomfortable with this idea then I suggest taking some time for yourself. Sit down and make a list of all of the negative impacts your addiction has on your life and relationships. You can make a list of all of the positive things that would come from quitting your addiction. Another thing you can do is get on social platforms and find people that are in the same boat as you.
One of the main things I have come to realize is you need to change a lot of the things you do. You need to change the people you hang out with, the places you go, and the toxic things you like to do. I hate using this because they always say this in AA and NA. They always say you need to change your people, places, and things. If I learned anything from AA this is what it would be. This is very important. Normally the friends you have when you are using are not going to be there for you when you are trying to quit. If you keep going to the place you would always use then you are more than likely eventually going to use again. Not everyone is the same but from all of the stories I have heard this is a constant occurrence.
Another good thing you can do is find new hobbies. Find something you love to do. My escape is Crypto and everything that comes with it. I love learning about new Crypto. I love writing about Crypto. I just love the idea of Crypto. This has helped me push through the worst of times. If I am having a bad day and even have the slightest hint in my mind of wanting to have a beer or get high, I sit down at my computer and just start blogging and watching videos about upcoming projects or random videos about Crypto. Of course, your hobby does not have to be Crypto. It can be just about anything. Anything that helps your mind focus on something good and productive is going to help you not just in your recovery but life in general.
Another thing that helped me was counseling. This was forced upon me when I was going to jail and I hated it at the time. Now that I look back though I am so glad I had the chance to be a part of it. If you allow your thoughts to build up and have no one to talk to about them they have the chance of blowing up and causing you to not think straight. It could cause your emotions to run wild and bring you to do drastic things that you will regret. Once again this is not for everyone. Some people might not like counseling. I was one of these people. Now I am glad I did it though.
Even changing your diet could be helpful. I used to be a snacker. Do not get me wrong, I still love my munchies now and again but now I have introduced more fruits and veggies. I have also brought up my seafood intake. What you put in your body changes the way you feel and the way your mind works. This is not me just saying this, this is backed by science. Your Food affects your mood. Here is an article all about this topic if you want to check it out.
Food & Your Mood
The last thing I want to talk about is exercise and meditation. Exercising is key to helping improve your mind and body. I suggest not going in all at once but gradually working your way into it. Everyone is not the same but I want to let you know how I started. I first started with stretching and taking a walk every day. I did this for the first couple of weeks. I then started adding in small weights and a couple of pushups a day. After a couple of weeks of this, I just kept adding different exercises in and started keeping track in my head of how much I was doing and how I was progressing. Everyone is different so it might be better for others to keep a log.
Meditation is another great way to destress and help you along your journey of freeing yourself from addiction. This is a way to free your mind from everything that is bothering you. Even if you have no idea what is bothering you this is a great way to destress and to take the anxiety out of your life. Even if it helps for a little while it is better than nothing. For the longest time, I could not seem to calm my brain but over time it has become easier. Here are a couple of techniques on how to start meditating and adding it to your day-to-day.
How to Meditate
As I said before, this might not work for you. Even if this article helps one person at least think about conquering their addiction then I have done my job.
I am online almost every night so if anyone ever wants to talk I am here and I will answer as quickly as I can. I hope this has helped you in some kind of way and I wish the best for everyone.
I am still fighting my addiction. Every day is a struggle but things are different now. I am happy to be alive. I am happy to wake up every day. I love who I am and enjoy the little things in life. I do not crave to be outside of myself. I embrace the person I am and the hobbies I have come to love. I am a fighter and I will not allow addiction to take control of me anymore. I fight every day still but this time it is different. This time I love myself and who I have become.
No one will believe in you if you do not believe in yourself. The world seems to be falling apart and this might make you seem like you want to just drink/snort it away but this is the time to stand up and fight for what you believe in and what you stand for.
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Lead image by Pixabay (edited by HattyHats)