When you have an addiction to alcohol or drugs the idea of giving them up completely can be frightening. People often develop substance habits as a type of coping mechanism that helps them deal with the stress of life, their own past trauma or mental illness symptoms that they haven’t addressed. Quitting a substance often means having to face these problems without your coping mechanism, however abstinence is crucial for recovery.
In order to handle abstinence, people with addictions must learn to use healthier coping mechanisms that can still be effective in dealing with stress or other problems that drive them to abuse drugs or alcohol. Although abstinence can be challenging it allows people in recovery to explore other options to help resolve their issues in more useful ways that provide long term happiness. Adjusting to life as an abstinent person allows people to grow and become more in tune with their own personal needs.
In a recovery treatment program, patients have the opportunity to learn better ways to cope with their stress so that they can minimize their cravings and find it easier to stay sober. Being abstinent can seem difficult at first but having the support of a recovery community as well as a therapist and other professionals can make it possible for anyone to accomplish becoming sober. Overcoming addiction means focusing on progressive abstinence with the tools provided in treatment.
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Coping Mechanisms in Recovery
Treatment offers addicts the chance to relearn how to cope with their problems in a more constructive way. Using drugs or alcohol is often the only way they know how to take away their pain, stress, boredom, depression or anxiety. It is simply a maladaptive coping mechanism that has become something they can no longer control.
People with addictions deal with their feelings by using drugs or alcohol, withdrawing from their friends or avoiding social situations, and becoming self-centered in their isolation. The reality is that these maladaptive coping mechanisms can actually worsen feelings of depression and anxiety. To be healthy people need to embrace sobriety and find social support so that they can ease their stress.
In recovery patients are provided with a variety of options to help them cope with their emotions and find something that truly helps them feel better. Things like regular exercise and nutrition have been proven to be very beneficial for reducing depression. Activities like meditation, yoga, journal writing and many other options can help alleviate stress and promote relaxation.
While in treatment each patient can have the opportunity to explore different hobbies that might act as a coping mechanism for them. They might enjoy writing, painting, playing sports, swimming, playing an instrument or any other activity that makes them feel good and helps reduce their stress levels. These kinds of hobbies can act as alternative coping mechanism to prevent and minimize cravings for drugs or alcohol.
Social and Emotional Support
Aside from activities and hobbies it is also very important for each person in recovery to have a support network in order to stay abstinent. People with addictions have the tendency to isolate themselves and this habit can make it very difficult to remain sober. In order to avoid relapse people need to have enough social support so that they have people to rely on for help as well as others who can hold them accountable.
Instead of withdrawing into social isolation, people in recovery must learn to feel more connected to the people in their lives that love them. Treatment centers provide an environment where patients can learn to build their ability to feel stronger connections and become more emotionally grounded. When it comes to abstinence, emotional support from loved ones is one of the most useful coping mechanisms available.
Whenever a former addict feels tempted to use again they need to have people that they can call and talk to at any time that will be there for them. Learning to reach out for help from others can be a new habit to learn in recovery but in the end it can be life saving. Friends, family members, support group or AA members can all be a part of a support network.
Abstinence is the foundation of recovering from an addiction but there are many different skills needed to be able to remain abstinent. Throughout treatment, addicts learn about progressive abstinence and how they can become more comfortable with it over time. There are a multitude of tools that can be used to stay sober and as time moves on most patients find new and better ways to embrace their abstinence.