The truth about recovery is that we often get tested. We are faced with difficult moments, painful emotions, and stress. If we are to stay sober, we must learn to get through these times without losing our cool and returning to drugs. There are a ton of different things you can do, and every individual is different. Here are a few ideas of what you can do if you find yourself struggling and feeling like you should use drugs.
We all can benefit from finding a way to get grounded. Whether it’s meditation, yoga, breathing, exercise, swimming, or lying down, we can find a way to arrive back in the present moment and deactivate the over-thinking mind. One Mind Dharma has a great page with tips and practices for grounding yourself, along with some meditations for free. These are great ways to return to where you are and be present. Often when we find ourselves feeling like using, we are stuck in our thoughts and engaging with anxiety. This prevents us from actually thinking clearly, so grounding yourself can help you see everything a little more calmly!
Play the Tape Through
This is one of the most common tricks in the book for us addicts. The practice here is to avoid relapse by really playing the entire tape through of our addiction. When we’re in moments in which we feel like using, we’re often focusing solely on the moment of using and release from how we’re feeling. If we can pause and reflect on what happens after, we can see the pain and suffering that follows. We sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture when we are stuck in these moments, so playing the tape through can help us to consider the consequences of our actions.
Do Something Healthy
Sometimes when we feel like using, we may have a desire to act out in other unhealthy ways. In recovery, we have to steer clear of harmful habits and build the ability to take care of ourselves in the difficult moments. When you feel like using, try taking action of self-care. Go on a walk, take a bath, meditate, or find another way to take care of yourself. You can find what this means for yourself, but try your best to build the habit of self-care and self-kindness and don’t resort to unhealthy behaviors if you can! Acting in unhealthy ways hurts our esteem and is a soft nudge toward relapse. Instead, act in a way that is a nudge toward recovery.
Make a Phone Call
This is something we learn in twelve-step groups. Pick up the phone and call a sponsor, mentor, family member, or friend. You may tell them what’s going on with you if it’s appropriate to do so, or you may try to lose yourself in conversation. Often, talking about what’s going on is enough to help us process the information and settle ourselves. I’ve also found that calling someone and hearing about what’s going on with them can be a good way for me to get out of my own head and thoughts.
Some people don’t like talking to others or are more introverted. Maybe you just process information better when writing. You don’t need a super formal journal or anything. Just write about what is going on. Maybe you can put down that you want to use, why you want to use, what would happen if you used, and see where it goes from there. Sometimes writing can be a good way to get the thoughts flowing, see them on paper, and understand better what’s going on.
Suit up and Show Up
This is another one that I learned in AA and has benefited me in many aspects of my life as a sober person. When you feel like using, don’t be alone. Get out and go to a meeting, see friends, or engage with others. This is a way we can continue to take right action and not dwell in our own thinking mind. It’s a wonderful method of getting out of the mind in a healthy way that doesn’t promote further addictive behavior.