Change Takes Time…Pace Yourself!
We are addicts and, true to form, we want what we want when we want it. Instant gratification defined our drug addiction and we now apply the same concept to our recovery. We expect the process of changing people, places and things that we associate with substance abuse to be quick, but it can last a lifetime. Lakeview Health’ rehab staff can teach you to change addiction patterns, which helps to maintain recovery after treatment.
Internal Changes in Rehab
Our lives are cluttered with chaos, destruction and loss when we are actively using drugs. Addiction treatment staff guides us to make the changes needed in order to embrace recovery. Before we can make outside changes, we must take an introspective look at ourselves. Thoughts and feelings are overwhelming during detox from drugs and/or alcohol. It is helpful to have a baseline idea of what our thoughts, feelings and behaviors should be like in recovery.
What are the baseline parameters of thoughts, feelings and behaviors in sobriety?
- Thoughts should consist of positive, sober thinking.
- Feelings ebb and flow. There is no “right way” to feel.
- Behaviors reflect sober thinking patterns.
Your new, sober style of thinking and behaving will help when you leave drug treatment and reenter home life. The next stage of change is actively changing the people, places and things that you associated with your addiction.
External Changes after Treatment
Impatience and loneliness are two enemies of recovery. When we are lonely, we fondly reflect on our substance abusing past. If we romanticize this part of our lives, we will eventually act upon our thoughts. If we don’t make core changes to reinforce sober living, we will relapse.
Core changes in early recovery from addiction should be:
- People we hang out with such as using buddies, friends who are still active in addiction and toxic relationships, which trigger urges to use.
- Places we frequent, where alcohol or drugs are common, can trigger memories of using. We do not want to give ourselves an opportunity to relapse by being in these environments, especially in early recovery.
- Things we surround ourselves with such as music, programs on television and/or memorabilia from our addiction can all be triggers for relapse.
It is human nature to prefer that change takes place instantly with minimal pain, but this is not always the case. We must acknowledge that changes such as the removal of old people, places and things related to our addiction are losses. It takes time for us to make changes and we must not become overwhelmed or start to feel stagnant. Pace yourself when changing friends, places and things that you love. There are specific tips you can use to decrease the uncomfortable feelings that may arise around change.
How Do I Pace Myself?
Changing people, places and things that were part of your substance abusing past can be both sad and frustrating. Many addicts relapse before allowing time for change in thoughts, behaviors and relationships to take place.
You can manage change by:
- Being patient. This is not a race to the finish line, it’s a lifelong commitment and change takes time.
- Being mindful about your thoughts, behaviors and interactions.
- Building healthy relationships. Surround yourself with others in recovery that have been in your shoes and can assist you with making changes and waiting for them to take place.
We should not rush by looking for instant gratification when making changes. Embracing change is a skill that we all must learn. Lakeview Health’ upcoming July Webinar lists 5 tips for embracing change, helping us pace ourselves and maintaining our sobriety.