One of the key aspects of long-term addiction recovery is to develop interests and goals that help you to define yourself without the use of drugs or alcohol. Making goals and cultivating new activities and hobbies can be powerful for your recovery. Here are some ideas for what you might try to healthily fill the void left behind by addiction.
Changing Your Habits Changes Your Life
Using drugs and alcohol is not just addicting but also habit-forming. This means that when you had free time or whenever you felt lonely, sad, or even excited, you turned to drugs instead of other outlets for your energy or time. As a result, you not only had a physical addiction but you also formed a pattern of behavior that is difficult to break.
Your recovery will partially focus on learning to shift or create habits that in the long term are more fulfilling. For example, during in-patient therapy you might:
- Follow a set daily schedule to help you get used to following a routine. You might work out every morning and eat at the same time of day. Even structures like this help you to get into a pattern of normal living.
- Practice replacement activities to occupy your brain during downtime. You might need a few weeks to peg down what things you like to do to fill up your time. You might decide to read at the same time each day, walk outdoors, or even paint or make crafts to keep your brain focused.
- Focus on consistency. The more consistently you change your behavior, the better you will be at forming lasting new habits. Even if you don’t enjoy reading or crafting at first, being consistent will help you break the old behavior patterns that drive some people to relapse into drug use.
Use a planner to help you decide ahead of time how you will use your day. Simple, daily planning can also help you avoid times when you have nothing to do. Boredom or loneliness can be triggers for drug use, so when you already have a plan in place, you won’t suddenly face a crisis or empty day where only your willpower stands between you and relapse.
Developing Talents Develops Self-Esteem
Drug use can sometimes stem from low self-esteem. People from all backgrounds have experiences that contribute to poor self-image. During recovery, counseling and time spent increasing your spirituality can help you learn to value yourself more than you ever have before. Part of the way you perpetuate that self-value is by doing things that make you proud of yourself.
In recovery, you can make an active effort to develop new or existing talents. Maybe you enjoyed writing when you were younger. You might try now to write each day about your experiences. If you played an instrument, you might take lessons again or start teaching that instrument to others.
If you feel like you have few positive qualities, you might choose something to work on that you wish you could become. Write down the person you want to be, and then pick one thing to delve into. For example, if you’ve always been interested in martial arts, you might start taking a self-defense class or watching some free online tutorials to get started.
Your new talents will also be a way to take up your time in a meaningful way. As you spend more time developing yourself, you can also find positive connections to your successes that help to give you a natural boost of endorphins — completely drug-free.
Setting Goals Sets You Up for Success
Your rehabilitation program should focus in part on how to make and stick to goals for yourself. You might make goals for your day, for your week, or for your month. Making those goals helps you to better visualize your recovery. Goals also help conquer addiction because they give you something to work toward, and addiction could prevent you from reaching your desires.
As you get into the habit of making and reaching small goals in your rehab program, you can start to be more confident in your ability to succeed. Confidence helps to foster more success, which then bolsters your confidence even more.
Your goals do not have to be outlandish or huge. In fact, achievable goals are always specific and attainable, and they should reflect the overall values you want in life.
For example, you might wish to be kinder to others so that you can have close, supportive friends. To achieve that goal, you might make a plan to write down all the good things you notice about others as you go about your day, or you might make a rule to never say anything unkind aloud for two weeks.
You can measure your progress and see how well you have done when you make a plan to change yourself. As you succeed at your goals, you set yourself up to succeed in overcoming addiction by fully changing your life.
For more information on addiction recovery treatment, contact us at Pacific Ridge.