Feeling lonely is common when struggling with an addiction. Most people don’t understand things they have never experienced themselves. I am here to tell you that your life matters in a big way. Although you may not be able to see through the cloudiness that accompanies an addiction you have to understand that you can and will get past this. The journey is going to seem long and hard but there is something out there for everyone. Once you start to see things clearly you will understand. Until then, do whatever it takes to help you feel better. Keep reaching out because at some point something will happen where you will start to realize that your experience not only made you stronger but can also help other people.
A crisis is not about what is happening but rather how a person reacts to what is happening. Bad things happen all the time but not everyone reacts badly to every situation or our entire society would be in a constant state of crisis.
The only person that can have an opinion on whether or not they are in a crisis is that person who is experiencing it. Just because I may be okay with my grandmother passing away does not mean that my sister is okay with it. That’s her experience, not mine.
Think about substance abuse and addiction. Rock bottom is not the same for everyone either. We often hear the phrase, “They have to hit rock bottom in order for them to realize they need help.” Well, that may be true for some but not for all and at the same time, rock bottom can range from a personal revelation to being homeless on the street.
If you sit in a drug and alcohol group, you know the one where you are supposed to talk about your feelings in a circle; someone’s rock bottom will be the worst whereas someone else’s rock bottom won’t seem that bad in comparison. Does that mean that the person whose rock bottom isn’t that bad doesn’t deserve treatment? Absolutely not.
I once had a client who was in his mid-thirties, had two children, a great job, a nice house, and a really supportive wife. He was in a car accident and broke a few bones and he just did what the doctor told him to do and that was to take Oxycontin. A few months later, he realized he was taking more than prescribed, and found it hard to withdrawal. He mentioned that when he was out of his prescription he would lay around the house feeling miserable, not able to get out of bed. His son asked him to play ball one day and he couldn’t. That’s when he knew he needed help. He didn’t lose his job, he didn’t lose his marriage, kids, or house, but he felt that he was in a state of crisis knowing that he did not want to continue down that path. On the outside, his rock bottom didn’t seem so bad right? But in reality, to him, it really was.
I hope that you can remember this if you begin to experience a crisis or know someone who is experiencing a crisis. Don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions or make comparisons. We are all unique in every situation, crisis or not.
We all have different roles in life and just because you’re in recovery does not mean that you are not responsible for fulfilling those roles. In fact, you should make it a part of your recovery. Take some time and think about what your roles are. For example, are you a mother, father, child, brother, sister, teacher, boss, employee, etc.?
Are you fulfilling your role obligations? Write down exactly who you are and what you need to do to be that person. Making relationships a top priority can really help you through this journey.
How to take action
You can start right now by thinking of 5 roles you play. Some common examples are these:
If you don’t have 5 roles right now it’s okay. Start with as many as you can think of.
Next, under each role, write exactly what you are responsible for doing.
Friend: being available, offering support, having fun
Now, write down 1-2 achievable actions that you can do to be sure that you are keeping your responsibility to that person.
Friend: being available, offering support, having fun
- Call friend once per week
- Schedule time together at least twice per month
Be specific when writing this down.
Last, take action.
I will call my friend every Wednesday morning at 10am.
We will make plans to go see a movie this Saturday.
Keep doing this will all of your roles. You will be surprised how busy you will be. This will open up doors you never knew were closed.
Keeping your environment recovery focused can be challenging especially if you do not live alone and the people in your home are not supportive. We talked earlier this week about ways to keep your environment recovery focused. Today, I’d like to dig a little deeper and talk about how to overcome a challenge you may face with this seemingly simple task.
If you live with people who are actively using substances while you are trying to stay sober this may apply to you. First, we all know that it is unrealistic to ask other people to stop using drugs or alcohol especially if they’re not the ones who are trying to do better. If you can learn how to stay sober when everyone around you is rubbing it in your face then you are setting yourself up for success.
Think about it this way. Many people escape to a 90 day treatment program, or create a space where no one is using around them. While that may be necessary to get started, it does not prepare anyone for how to cope or manage in the real world. If you’re starting off in this environment then it’s as if you have skipped the first step so to speak.
No doubt about it, this type of situation will be harder, especially in the beginning, but as you progress you will start to notice things about the world in which you used to be part of that will surprise, annoy, or agitate you.
For example, if your roommates stay up night using drugs and you’ve managed to get a good night’s sleep, you will watch them suffer with a hangover or withdrawal and be able to appreciate that you no longer have to deal with that. Or, you will watch them crave and realize how their behavior is really inappropriate during this time. You will have money to spend on nicer things while your roommates may be broke.
I’m here to tell you that this type of environment, while not ideal, is not a deal breaker. Don’t use this as an excuse to not gain sobriety but think of it as a challenge and once you’ve conquered it, you will be much more prepared than most.
- Be sure to start each day with a clean home or room
- Get rid of cash and paraphernalia
- Daylight is important so open your windows to let the sunlight come in
- Keep your refrigerator well stocked with healthy snacks, fruits, and vegetables
- Post your recovery intentions somewhere you look every day