No part of recovery from addiction is even in the same county as the word “easy.” It’s a complicated, arduous process that wagers its own unique battles inside one’s mind, leaving wounds often invisible to people passing by. With that knowledge, relish the willpower needed to seek the help, people, kinship, and vulnerability that make up the recovery path. Even looking up articles and reading requires a direct confrontation with the ever-daunting subject of addiction. Recovery is a long battle, and temptation to use alcohol or drugs once again is not only normal — it’s expected. Whenever these urges surface, always think of the support systems and strategies in place that can help combat them.
Now, you should not conflate having urges with relapsing, nor should you confuse relapsing with a complete failure to recover. Urges, as mentioned previously, are normal. Addiction programs a new need into the body, causing an internal dissonance in the brain between its desire to use and the need to recover. In dire circumstances where the urges are left unchecked, they could turn into a relapse. Avoiding getting that point is the ideal, but even relapsing in no way means that someone is “too addicted” to make a full recovery — rather, it can indicate a need in a shift in strategies. The urges themselves can be constant and last for years after someone has stopped using. While each path to recovery is different, there are some good general strategies that can be used to placate these urges when they are felt.
Keeping busy can help distract the mind. Structuring a routine with a rigid, full schedule can provide stability and control in life outside of drugs or alcohol. Maintaining the schedule initially may prove difficult, as urges can tempt a person to make compromises in time. Once someone has compromised once, it becomes easier and easier to compromise again. So, write the schedule down, with times and durations for tasks if necessary, and set it so there simply isn’t any time for using. Having a loved one keep a schedule alongside an addicted individual can make it a bit easier to begin and maintain the schedule and its intentions. However, this working schedule also operates as a timetable of success, allowing one to look back on everything that was accomplished at any given time on any given day — all done without using. Rather than feeling constantly bombarded by temptations and being on the back foot throughout recovery, this schedule, when checked and adhered to, can be a poster of success. It can also serve as proof of the agency one has over their daily life, and thus their own path towards a healthy recovery.
Keeping a regimented day can structure a healthy life. However, as urges persist, integrate new experiences that are simply incompatible with usage. Activities that require many people or a single public space can make using not just unwanted, but actively inconvenient. Activities that keep the body moving and the mind churning can make it difficult for urges to manifest from moment to moment. Playing tennis with a friend in a public park or going for a laser tag session together can both keep the mind and body completely occupied. Skydiving with a drink in hand seems rather impossible to pull off, as well as ill-conceived. Creating these active moments and memories to keep both mind and body busy can subtly reinforce that things can be accomplished without using, even if it starts with just a single game of tennis.
Looking at the aforementioned strategies, one thing is already constant — the integration of other people. The path to recovery is often a journey, or at least it can feel like it. Partaking in group therapy and being open with trusted loved ones can illuminate the kinship that an addict could desperately be searching for. Loneliness can shrink one’s own will, compromising their drive to recovery and allowing a clear path for the urges to grow and develop into relapses. Keeping loved ones close, or even calling in each day, can go an incredibly long way. Developing these relationships with others can be exceedingly difficult, and it takes strength to open them up. Treasure and utilize the people who understand the trials faced in recovery every day, whether they are a family member, friend, or fellow addict in recovery. There is strength to be found in both oneself and others.
Keeping these things in mind creates an outline for someone to get through the initial urges in recovery. While each path in recovery varies, keeping the mind and body going and staying alongside caring individuals who understand the pain and difficulty of recovery is invaluable as a personal community. These basic strategies create a launching point towards one’s own goals of a healthy life.
At The Kimberly Center, trained staff are on-site to assist in beginning a new path towards healthy living. Specializing in addiction recovery, substance abuse, and its related problems, the caretakers that make up The Kimberly Center are ready to personalize a program that leads to a holistically improved style of living. By addressing addiction and its associated destructive behaviors, our team can help you create a pathway towards a better life with positive interpersonal relationships and a more productive methodology. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, contact The Kimberly Center today at (855) 452-3683.