According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), the cost and consequences of substance, gambling, sex, food and other addiction places an enormous burden on American society. Due to its scale and prevalence, it is often referred to as the nation’s number one health problem. Addiction strains the economy, the health care system and the criminal justice system while threatening job security, public safety, social, marital and family life.
Dependence crosses all societal boundaries, affecting every ethnic group, of both genders and in every tax bracket. Addiction and dependent behavior is increasingly recognized as a disease – (dis-ease in the spirit, mind and body) that can be treated and healed.
Here are a few suggestions on how you can began the “reconnection” process so that you can abstain from your addiction this holiday season, feeling empowered and hopeful that you are on your way to real recovery.
There’s something so powerful about admitting powerlessness. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you don’t have to keep fighting a battle that you don’t yet have the tools to win. When you finally admit “I just can’t do this by myself, I need help,” that’s when the entire Universe conspires to support you in surprising ways. If you don’t believe in God, call it Love or whatever feels good for you.
So many of us are under the false impression that we have to somehow fix ourselves by ourselves. You may feel that you’re all alone this holiday season and have to white knuckle your way through the holidays – not true. There are 12 Step meetings all over the country. If you have to literally go to three or four meetings a day, share your story and desire to stay clean, people will trip over themselves to be there for you.
Share with people that are close to you that you want to stay sober for the holidays and ask for their support. There’s an old proverb that states, “Where two or more are gathered, I am in the midst,” meaning there’s power in numbers. The more you have people looking out for you, and who are in agreement with what you are attempting to do, the better.
Write as many affirmations as you can every day about how deserving and worthy you are of a drama free life. Write as many wonderful things as you can about yourself – even if you don’t believe them yet. You’re not lying to yourself when you write positive affirmations, you’re finally telling yourself the truth. These affirmations start to sink in after a while, and you will be delighted with how you start to feel about yourself.
You would be amazed at how doing something beyond your comfort zone everyday actually rewires your brain and gives your sense of self-worth and confidence a boost. If you don’t exercise, this is a wonderful time to start taking some gentle walks or go for a lightweight hike, do some sit-ups – get your body moving. Turn off the television for an hour and read something inspirational. I promise you, if you do this, at the end of seven days, you’re going to be feeling clearer and healthier.
Meditation is the scariest thing for a busy mind, because the ego doesn’t want to give up control, even though it’s been out of control for a long time. Very gently, allow yourself to sit in silence for three to five minutes two or three times a day. This is actually an important tool to reconnect to your true identity (disconnection from your true identity is actually the number one cause of all your problems). If you don’t know how to meditate, find a book or a YouTube video on meditation. What you are interested in and focused on, will reveal itself to you.
If your family stresses you out and triggers all of your issues, why are you spending the holidays with them? I know, I know – the big “O” word – obligation. So basically what we’re saying when we do that, is we are obligated to suffer and be tortured through Christmas dinner. And then after a couple of hours of torture and being triggered, you want to go home and drink yourself silly. That’s not being very kind to yourself. I know it’s a scary proposition because we don’t want people to be mad at us, but remember, you are important and deserving of healing and recovery. Give yourself a break and skip the family dinner this year – hang around people that make you feel good, or go to an AA meeting instead.
No, you are not that strong yet. Our egos have a way of convincing us that we can sit in a bar, go the crack house or wherever our drug of choice happens to be, and just hang out without being tempted to indulge. That’s the addiction wrapped in a very convincing package, trying to reel you back into the familiar drama. Don’t fall for it. Being among people who are still indulging is not a safe place for you. Go to a meeting, a spiritual center or hang out with sober friends.
Judging and beating yourself up about where you are in life right now is self-defeating and a set up for failure. Yes, you’ve made mistakes, we all have. Know that no matter what you’ve done, it was the best you could do with what you had. Yes, we are accountable for our mistakes, but being accountable and willing to make things right from a place of compassion, is much more effective than beating yourself up all the time.
Remember when I talked about the “physical allergy and phenomena of craving?” Well, when you pick up that first one, the drink, the drug, the negative thought, or the telephone to call that person who keeps abandoning you, you just got on a train headed to “pain station.” You think you’re in pain before picking up the first one, that’s easy compared to what’s coming once you’ve set off the phenomena of craving. Fight for your life beloved. A little Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT – tapping) is a wonderful tool to support you in the immediate crises of mental obsession. Look it up, it will help you.
There are times when it’s just seems too hard and you want to give up. I know, I’ve been there. There’s a difference between surrendering to something greater than yourself, and giving up to that which is less than you deserve. No matter what it takes, don’t give up. Even if you slip and fall, get up, dust yourself off and try harder. You are worth the effort, and on the other side of all the suffering, the hard work, the slips and struggle, there’s someone really amazing waiting to meet you. Guess who that might be?
When a caterpillar is transforming into a butterfly, it’s a mushy mess. In order for metal to turn into gold, it must go through fire. As you are stepping into a life of freedom, peace and harmony by abstaining from alcohol/drugs, or whatever your drug of choice happens to be, it’s going to feel uncomfortable and scary. If you can make friends with the discomfort of profound change, and surround yourself with support, and practicing the tools I outlined above, you can get through it and land safely on the other side. I’m rooting for you. I know you can do it.