Addiction is a habit, a bad one. The way that addiction works in the mind is complex. It takes over systems, it rewires reward, and it forms new learning patterns. Habits are a matter of learning. The brain has learned to associate one thing with drugs and alcohol and makes that association habitual. Breaking a habit is hard. Habits which don’t include drugs and alcohol, like smoking cigarettes, nail biting, or other compulsive behaviors, are hard habits to break.
Breaking a habit doesn’t happen overnight. Much research has been dedicated to habits. Research has found that it is easier to form new habits to replace old habits rather than focus on breaking a new habit. This couldn’t be more true for addiction. Focusing only on not doing drugs or drinking is not enough to keep an addict clean and sober. Instead, they have to create new ways of living which contribute to a new recovery lifestyle. In short, they have to build a whole new life of habits. Often in recovery the term ‘contrary action’ is used. Once a habit has come to one’s awareness, one has the ability to choose to act differently. Contrary action keeps addicts and alcoholics away from their ‘best thinking’ and puts them into the thinking that will really be best for them.
Create A Vision For Your Habit Changes
Addicts and alcoholics know that they have to have a reason for their change in habit. Their motivation has to come from within, coupled with a belief that it is possible, and that they are worth it. Imagine what life will look like without addiction being part of your day. What will you do? Where will you go? How do you want life to look? Once you have a vision of what you will look like and how you will act without the habit of addiction, you can start to define the actions you need to take to build new specific habits.
Make Room For Mistakes, Celebrate Successes
Habits in recovery from addiction are big and small. Did you make it through the grocery store without a compulsive buying experience or without having severe cravings to buy alcohol? That’s an accomplishment! Did you have a stressful day and reach out to an old drug dealer? Old behaviors can be triggering and feel like failures. If you didn’t buy, pick up, and use drugs, that’s a success. Celebrating success and accepting mistakes is the way to make habits permanent.
Lifelong recovery is possible because everyone is capable of making changes in their life. If you’re struggling with addiction, there is hope in recovery. Design For Change offers long term residential treatment programs for men and women in addition to detox and other recovery services. For more information, call us today at (877) 267-3646.