Part of you wants to change your self-destructive behaviour. But part of you clings to it like the log lady. Finding your way out of the maze is like trying to understand an episode of Twin Peaks. Why does your mind fight against itself and why does it talk to you incessantly when you least want it to?
The good news is that every day you remain sober the easier it gets. There are good and bad days, and some are easier than others but overall as you step away from the drinking madness the thoughts of “using” as they say in recovery parlance, become less frequent and less overpowering.
The Cycle Of Addiction
- Pain. All addiction has its roots in pain.
- Substance Abuse. Using alcohol or another drug to relieve the pain or distract you from it.
- Relief from pain albeit temporarily.
- Hangovers, shame and remorse leading to more pain.
To break this cycle of addiction means that you have to change. You can't keep doing the same thing over and over day in day out and expect change to happen for you. You have to be the architect of your new life.
The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.
That saying about “being in two minds” is never more real than when dealing with addiction. There is the part of you that realises continuing down this path will end in unhappiness and self-loathing, and then there is the part that knows giving up drinking is the rational and sane thing to do. Where the two parts of your mind meet are where the battles for control of your self take place. To change you have to distract the mind from its old habits because those habits die hard.
In order to stop drinking you have to change your routine. You have to do different things. If you sit in your chair as you usually do waiting for beer hour to come around, then beer hour will come around. What then? If you passively attempt change, then your old life will take control. This is why you keep drinking because you are not doing anything different to the time before and the time before that and the time before that.
To step away from the madness requires a real determination to change. You won't get that by continuing with your old routine. All of your problems can be solved if you decide to take extreme ownership of them.
Address your pain. What is it that you are hiding from? If you can afford it, a therapist can help you with that. For most of us though it's merely a case of sitting down in peace and contemplating our lives. Recovery is hard, but the alternative, grinding your way through day after day through gritted teeth always wishing you could drink is Dantes inferno. Sobriety is not recovery. Recovery is recognising and removing the reasons you want to drink from your life. Sobriety is merely moving from day to day without drinking. They are both separate entities, and you need both to be able to move forward and lead a rich and fulfilling life.
“White Knuckle Sobriety” is the term for someone who is barely getting through the day without drinking. But eventually, this type of thinking will succumb. Not drinking is the answer to your problems, not a chore to be hellishly bound to. You'll start feeling better after a week, and after three you'll feel on top of the world but unless you change you'll eventually end up back in the same place, under a bush or someone you don't know.
Change your route home from work, so you don't drive past the off-licence. Change your leaving time if you can. Leave later and grab a take away on the way home or leave earlier and hit the gym.
Go for a swim. Go for a walk. Take the dogs out. My dogs don't know what's hit them haha! Walking is an excellent way of working out those thoughts in your mind as you put one step in front of the other.
Meet up with new friends, meet up with old friends. Go to the coffee shop and take your laptop – just for a change. Start working out, go for a jog or a run. Pick up that old dusty guitar again or go to college and learn a new language.
Plan some trips away at the weekend. Get out of your routine environment. Do different things. If you keep relapsing, then ask yourself “what am I going to do differently this time?”
Reward yourself. Spend the money you've saved on a nice meal out. Pamper yourself. Have a nice long bath.
Recognising that you need to change is the key step to making it happen.