Addiction comes in many forms and is a common obstacle almost everyone will face. If you are not facing it, chances are you know someone who is. There are tools to recover from the trap of addiction and begin the healing process.
Stress management and finding new coping mechanisms are the best tools to have in your “recovery toolbox.” In addition to seeking out medical and professional help, these additional tools can help you regain and maintain control in your life. We will look at some of these areas in more depth in this article.
Mental and emotional lifestyle changes start with tools such as avoiding triggers and developing new coping skills. These will then set a foundation for a new way of thinking, and being surrounded by a newer and healthier environment. Changing your thinking can ultimately change your life and help you regain control. You deserve good things! Check out these tools below.
Tools for Coping With Old Issues In a New Way
One of the ways we fall into the routine of addiction is our responses to handle stress. Unhealthy coping choices lead to the spiral of addiction. These choices may look like drinking or drug use and are often sparked by a trigger.
Triggers can be internal or external. This simply means they can be related to feelings or more environmental. Avoid triggering people or environments that have led to destructive behavior in the past. Avoiding triggers in your life can mean changing your environment. If the home is a triggering place it may be time to redecorate or rearrange your home into a stress-free space. For instance, clutter and mess are proven to be a trigger for stress and anxiety. If it is difficult to rid your home of the mess, ask a friend or co-worker for help.
Some triggers are unavoidable in life. Extreme life changes out of our control often are a trigger as well. That is commonly due to our ultimate lack of control in the situation. This is when it is time to focus on what you can control in your life. Take it day by day, one thing at a time. Trying to handle too many things at one time is overwhelming for anyone. What things could be triggers?
- Certain Social Gatherings
- Heavy Traffic
Think of H.A.L.T. Halt stands for some triggering instances that can lead to one trying to fill with substance abuse.
H – Hungry
A – Angry
L – Lonely
T – Tired
If you notice any of these feelings starting to take a toll on your daily life, reach out. Keep in mind what you are striving to achieve. The more you say “No” to a triggering feeling, the easier it will become. After all, practice makes perfect.
Negative Coping Skills Hurt Yourself and Others
Identify negative coping skills and pinpoint what is causing these reactions. Find new ways to deal with these coping mechanisms and implement them into your daily life. Unhealthy coping mechanisms may look like the following:
- Turning to Drugs or Alcohol
- Promiscuous Sex
- Oversleeping or not sleeping enough
- Avoiding meaningful relationships
- Lack of Empathy
- Stress Eating or Starving yourself
Pinpointing these coping skills can take time and very often an outside, unbiased view. This is why support groups and therapy can help navigate obstacles such as these, which we will dive into further.
Healthy Coping Options
Healthy coping options can redirect your brain into making decisions that help instead of harm. These healthy coping options are referred to as lifestyle changes. Healthy coping skills are choices that do not harm yourself or others. Where to start? When you have repeatedly been making unhealthy choices, it can be hard to think of how or what qualifies as a healthy choice. Ideas for healthy coping options address not one area of life but many.
Positive Mental & Emotional Coping Skills
- Therapy or Support groups
- Pick up a Hobby
- Stress Management
- Spirituality or Religion
What does acceptance have to do with mental and emotional coping skills? Acceptance is the realization that not everything is in your control. Acceptance will allow you to open your heart and mind to transformation. Accepting you need help or guidance is not a bad thing. In fact, acceptance is a sign of intense strength and willpower!
It can feel like the opposite, but it opens the door of opportunity for healing and growth. The first steps can often be the hardest. Just remember that you deserve the freedom of sobriety! You deserve to be free from the chains holding you back from success and fulfillment in life.
Therapy and Support Groups
Surrounding yourself with an uplifting and encouraging environment will offer support when it is needed most. One of the things about support groups is that they are typically made up of people you don’t know. These people will have no emotional or family ties and can offer support from a totally unbiased point of view. Support groups are full of people going through the same hurdles you face.
Therapy and support groups can help you develop meaningful and healthy relationships. Meaningful relationships create a space for trust and healing to develop and grow. They will also help you navigate through triggers and utilize new coping skills. Someone you can trust will be there every step of the way to help you achieve your goal. It is important to have that support when faced with triggers.
When attending a support group, expect to see a boost in confidence and belonging as you experience life with those on a similar journey.
There are many different types of support groups to cater to your specific needs or beliefs such as
- Family Therapy
- Family Therapy is centered around the family’s strength through recovery. Often during struggles with an addiction family is hurt first, this therapy works on rebuilding that trust again and moving forward together.
- Group Therapy
- Group therapy is the one we often see in movies. This takes place in a group setting with anywhere from 5 to 15 people led by a psychologist.
- Nutritional Therapy
- Nutritional therapy focuses on the healing power of eating healthy. Substance abuse damages your body and depletes it of needed nutrients. This program helps get you back on track.
- Stress Management
- Stress takes a toll on your body and behaviors. Controlling stressful triggers starts with recognizing what it is that sends you over the edge. This therapy helps you regain control of those triggers instead of letting them control you.
- Trauma Therapy
- Trauma can damage a person not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. Trauma can be first hand or generational. Abuse and PTSD are just a couple of traumatic examples that often leave to self-destructive behavior, whether consciously or not. This type of therapy can take place as a relatable group or individually.
- Medically Assisted Recovery
- This type of recovery method focuses on using medicine combined with other therapies available to achieve success in sobriety and combating addiction and withdrawal.
- Holistic Therapy
- Holistic therapy utilizes four types of therapy processes to fight addiction with balance and finding clarity naturally. These include
- Physical Fitness
- Exercise Therapy
- This type of therapy primarily focuses on using fitness to strengthen body and mind. You are stronger than your weaknesses! Drug and alcohol weaken the body, and going through detox can leave one feeling weak as well. This therapy will work on building you up stronger than before!
- Individual Therapy
- Individual therapy is more comfortable one on one therapy. Group therapy is not for everyone, and that is okay. The therapist will help determine what type of therapy process may be best, based on your story.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy is another term for mental health counseling. This type of counseling can help one navigate a clouded or confused mind to steer forth in a clear and purposeful direction. They will help you set goals and achieve them! The reaction is a plan of action!
- Dialectical Therapy for Substance Abuse
- This type of therapy addresses those with more complicated psychological disorders. Behavior and environmental transformation is key here.
Keep Busy With A New Hobby
Picking up a hobby can keep your hands and mind busy. This will engage your thoughts into more positive and meaningful activities, leaving less time for idleness, which is a trigger for many to use. A hobby is something you enjoy doing in your free time. This will enhance your enjoyment of life again, leaving a sense of fulfillment. Examples are:
- Horseback Riding
- Volunteering at a shelter
- Upcycling furniture
- Taking a class and learning new skills
All of these and more can enrich your life and social circles leading to more positive opportunities for growth. There is much joy that comes with caring for others and spending your time helping others or taking part in an activity. This is a key ingredient in stress management as well.
Stress Management Lowers Triggering Behavior’s
Practicing stress management will help you focus on what is important and cope in a healthy way. Stress is normal for everyone, how you handle that stress is what makes the difference. This will help lower the probability of using and turning to unhealthy choices.
Stress Management takes practice and plenty of mental reminders to stay calm and not overreact. But what are some stress management techniques that you can apply to your daily life? While a therapist or support group can strongly help in this area, here are a few tips and tricks to practice on your own.
- Go for a walk and clear your mind. Fresh air and exercise calm the mind and body and assist in emotional regulation. Take in nature’s healing surroundings and breathe deeply.
- Call someone you trust to keep you on the right path and encourage your sobriety.
- Breathing exercises. Stretches combined with deep, controlled breaths can calm the nerves and regulate heart rate.
- Snuggle with an animal. It’s true, animals save lives, and petting or spending time with your pet lowers stress levels. No pet? Take a trip to the humane society!
- Journal about your thoughts and feelings. This provides a creative and mental outlet for stress and can be very self-therapeutic. Later, re-read your entries and consider ways to effectively handle these situations.
- Engage in a hobby to keep your mind and hands busy.
- Light a candle and have a relaxing cup of hot tea. Read a book or engage in other calming activities.
Spirituality and Religion is A Place of Refuge
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalms 46
Faith has always been a place of refuge and reassurance for people since the beginning of time. Reading the Bible reminds a person that this too shall pass. No matter what you believe, when you take that stress and anxiety and place your trust in the higher power, what seems like a mountain in front of you will become smaller. Practicing your faith and surrounding yourself with others who believe as you do will lift you up on wings like eagles! Spiritual practices include but are not limited to:
- 12 Step Program
- Positive affirmations
What are the 12 Steps Of Recovery?
The 12 step program is not just a mental choice, but a spiritual one. Everyone has heard of the 12 Step Program. That is because of its high success rate through the years with many different levels of addictive behaviors. What are the 12 Steps? Here is an example of the 12 Steps according to Alcoholics Anoymous.
“We admit we were powerless over alcohol (or insert addiction of choice) and that our lives had become unmanageable.” (admitting lack of control over addiction)
“We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” (Recognizing strength from a higher power.)
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.” (Examine past errors with help of a mentor)
“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
“Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
“Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.”
“Made a list of persons we have harmed and became willing to make amends with them all.”
“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would inure us or them.”
“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong admit it.”
“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry it out.”
“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs.”
These 12 steps could vary slightly between organizations but primarily are the same across the board. The steps help address struggles and conquering them as an individual and as a group. People helping people get better.
Physical Coping Skills
Physical practices are a way to exert energy and anxiety that can build up on a daily basis. Taking that energy and putting it into physical activity is a stress-relieving healthy habit that can last a lifetime.
- Self Care
- Healthy Diet
- Rest & Relaxation
Exercise Releases Feel Good Dopamine
Dopamine is what your brain craves when it comes to that “feel-good” feeling. Dopamine works against depression and anxiety by releasing those “happy hormones.” These endorphins are what your brain and bodies craves and why it is so easily tricked into an addiction to harmful substances.
The difference is substance abuse does not last, and it does more harm than good in so many ways. The neurotransmitters that are released during exercise last long and have an overall healthy impact on your whole body.
Physical exercises can be as simple or as vigorous as you desire. Being active for twenty to thirty minutes a day strengthens body and mind. Your exercise can be as simple as going for a walk or a more intense gym session.
Exercise is a commitment, a commitment that will fill idle time that previously may have been spent thinking about your next high. Exercise in itself can create a sort of natural healthy body high. This happens when your heart is pumping and your pulse is racing, this time for a good reason. Exercise produces results that will boost self esteem and confidence. Try some of these body and brain boosting exercises in your daily routine:
- Horseback Riding
Self Care – Because You Matter
Self care can easily be overlooked in the hustle and bustle of life. What does self care look like? Self care means taking the time to remember that you matter and you are worthy of good things. Self care means taking the time to treat and take care of yourself.
Self care can cover a wide variety of areas in life, most of which we are going over as a whole. However, it is still important to pay attention to details of self care. Here are some examples of positive self care that can boost your morale and reduce stress in your life.
- Take a Bubble Bath
- Light some candles
- Get a Massage
- Healthy Diet
- Day Trip to an attraction
- Self Reflection
- Go on a date
- Spend time in nature
- Love Yourself
- Take a Break
Healthy Diet Detoxes You From the Inside Out
Healing your body from addiction and substance abuse comes in many forms. Starting from the inside out is a good way to start cleansing your organs of the damage done from the effects of drugs or alcohol.
Certain foods literally heal certain parts of your body and brain. For instance, the superfood broccoli is an anti-inflammatory vegetable packed full of vitamins and nutrients that help fight cancer! Incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet will make a difference in your brainpower and the way that you feel.
The convenience of fast food has taken the world by storm, a very unhealthy storm. It can be hard for some to make these healthy choices, but one step at a time will lead to making healthy food options with ease. Working with a nutritionist can lead you in this endeavor when you don’t know where to start. In the meantime, check out some free healthy diet plans on the web at your disposal.
- Consume more Vegetables
- Consume more fruits in their natural state
- Avoid added sugar if possible
- Balance your plate
- Protein is important
- Healthy fats are okay
- Drink lots of water
- Don’t like water? Try adding fresh squeezed lemon or limes. Cucumbers and mint. Or, other fresh or frozen fruits to jazz up the flavor.
CBD Oil Has Been Found To Reduce Drug Cue Induced Cravings
On the subject of health against addiction, there has been a rise in popularity with CBD, and it’s health benefits in the last year. CBD Oil is derived from the cannabis plant. It does not contain THC and does not get you high. CBD is used therapeutically and is non-addicting. CBD has been used in studies to:
- Reduce seizures
- Control cravings
- Calm the Nerves
- Treat Skin Conditions
These are just a few examples. The testimonies from people using CBD oil as a healthy dietary aid flow in day after day as studies progress. According to news-medical, a study done by Yasmin Hurd resulted in positive results in using CBD to combat drug addiction. Of course consult with a medical professional with any questions.
Healing Happens During Sleep
“The day is over; it’s time for rest. Sleep well, my dear, you gave it your best. Tomorrow comes, oh so soon, close your eyes and awake before noon.” –Catherine Pulsifer
Good sleep habits is practicing good self-care. While asleep, our brain and body recharge. Sleep gives our body time to physically shut down and work internally on healthing and growth. Having a good sleep schedule or routine can increase the impact of sleep on your body. Poor sleep is one of the main causes linked to anxiety and depression. Complete deep sleep will increase your mood and energy levels for the day.
Bad Sleep Habits
- Avoid too much screen time before bed
- Drinking before bed can cause interrupted sleep
- Overheated sleep is poor sleep
- Too much food before laying down
- Exercise before bed
Good Sleep Habits
- Read a book before bed
- Take a relaxing bath
- Cool environment creates more sound sleep
- Regular Sleep Routine
- 6 to 8 hours of sleep
Stay The Course With An App
It is important to stay the course. This means on top of others helping you along on your journey, it is imperative that you hold yourself accountable. One of the easy ways to do this is with an app to log your strides.
Addiction Recovery Apps for Android or IOS Phones
- I Am Sober
- Track your sobers days and milestones with this app. This app includes guides and additional resources. Build new habits and connect with others. Find daily motivation one day at a time.
- Recovery Path: Addiction Recovery & Addiction Help
- Find recovery tips and logs with this app. Daily affirmations to encourage your growth and goals. This app has a meetings finder to help you find meetings in your area.
- Nomo – Sobriety Clocks
- This unique app lets you see how much money you have saved on your sobriety journey! This app comes with daily affirmations and encouragement. Nomo provides a tracker to count every day sober. The great thing about nomo is it is not one particular tracker available but many for those dealing with multiple addictions.
- Sober Time
- The Sober Time App is another tool to count the days of sobriety with an amazing community of support from others on the same journey. Every minute and every dollar counts, sober time helps you track it!
- Better Help: Online Counseling & Therapy
- With over 500 thousand downloads, this app gears more towards professional help and guidance. It is important to have someone to talk to who knows the ropes. This is why better help pairs you with a licensed therapist. All therapists available through this app have a Master’s Degree or Doctorate Degree in their specific field. The counselors or therapists are available to contact any time of day or night. There are live sessions with your counselor and also the choice of messenger. Webinars are available to learn more.
- Pear reSET – O
- Pear Therapeutics Incorporated has an app to provide therapeutic treatment for opioid use disorders. This app focuses on one area more than the previously listed apps, but has great feedback. This app can help you understand where triggers come from and how to make better choices. One of the perks of this app is real physical rewards in the form of gift card cash! Everyone loves rewards for their achievements and this app recognizes that. Pear Therapeutics also provides cognitive behavioral therapy.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Change doesn’t happen overnight. It is a slow and steady process and requires daily commitment and dedication. This collection of tools and resources will help rewire your mind and restructure your life. Setting clear goals and proceeding with a structured plan of action will get you there. You deserve it!