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Making Changes

In my observation, nearly every individual in addiction recovery has either heard of or experienced the 12-step groups or the 12-step curriculum. Some recovering addicts swear by 12-step practices and principles and other addicts convulse at the thought of attending a 12-step group meeting to share their feelings with a bunch of addicted strangers. I feel that I have a rather unique perspective on the 12-step model because while I don't actively participate in every principle and policy they suggest, I have developed a deep respect and admiration for the community as a whole and what they represent.
As a recovering addict, I have been fortunate enough to encounter many methods of recovery, including but not limited to the 12-step group for sex addiction. I first found my way to the most common group options like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and eventually, I discovered the variety of sex addiction-related 12-step groups available. After spending plenty of time in the 12-step group world, I can honestly say that I'm abundantly grateful for the recovery work they do within the community. However, I cannot give 12-step groups all the credit in regards to my recovery experience and maintaining sobriety.
There are numerous benefits to documenting cravings on an official craving log. Managing cravings is perhaps one of the most challenging barriers you must face in recovery. If addiction is like an earthquake in our lives, cravings are the continual and sometimes catastrophic tsunamis that follow. I define cravings at the mental, emotional, or physical reminders that tug at your soul and remind you that your addiction still exists. They tend to be at their most extreme in early recovery, but in some cases, cravings can be experienced for years following your sobriety date. So let's see how beneficial a craving log might be for your personal addiction recovery.
When fighting addictions of any kind there are many important elements that support sobriety, but one of the most crucial ways to prevent relapse is by creating and maintaining healthy routines. In my experience, when you are missing aspects of your personal healthy routines, you are more susceptible to unhealthy thoughts, damaging choices, and most important, relapse.
Setting or maintaining boundaries with family and friends may be difficult if you are in recovery from addiction. The difficulty of setting limitations with others is a natural thing to experience in recovery because when you were in active addiction it’s likely that your boundaries were severely blurred or even nonexistent. The lack of boundaries in your life at the time may have led to manipulation, abuse, allowing others to take advantage of you and put you in harm’s way. It also leads to codependency in relationships, which likely fed your addiction and kept it active. But now you are in recovery, and it’s time to learn that setting and maintaining boundaries is essential to your recovery.
Acceptance in addiction recovery means you learn to accept the things you can’t change and focus on the things you can. Trying to change other people, living in the past, wishing things were different, and stressing over failed plans are the things that keep us stuck and cause great turmoil in our minds. I wasted an embarrassing amount of energy on things I was powerless over during my active addiction. I was so consumed by things I could not control, that I lost focus on the ones I could. Not knowing or misunderstanding acceptance in addiction recovery set me up to continually strive against the universe.
Do you fear addiction recovery? During my active addiction, I feared everything. Fear was the driving emotion in my life. I was afraid of an unknown future and was most afraid of becoming sober. I'd become comfortable in my mess and just the thought of anything different frightened me. The fear of addiction recovery hid itself in my untruths.
My lack of emotional maturity during my active addiction caused me to stuff down my feelings. Thinking, “I have to feel my feelings?” caused me great fear when I started sobriety. Whenever I started working through a 12-step program, dealing with emotions felt like opening a closet door with a big, scary monster inside of it. The scary monster was all the feelings I’d stuffed in there, during the decade I used. I was emotionally immature and didn’t have tools to handle the ups and downs of life. Getting drunk or high was my response to every feeling. For example, if you made me angry, I would get "drunk at you" for revenge. It really was as silly and self-destructive as it sounds. I was so scared of that monster, my emotions in the closest, that I’d rather self-destruct than face them.
Overcoming regret in addiction recovery can feel impossible because when a person is in active addiction, he or she tends to repeat the same mistakes over and over. I’ve been there, I know the guilt, shame and embarrassment that accompany regret, and I know how important it is to find a way to overcome it. It’s important because regret can be a huge obstacle to people getting better and a huge risk for relapse. That happened to me, too. I wasn’t able to deal with my regret and that caused me to go back out and drink – time and time again. Since then, I have learned that even though regret is painful, dealing with it is part of the recovery process and healing. It is possible to overcome regret in addiction recovery, even if it isn’t easy.
Learning to set limits in addiction recovery is vital for overall wellness (Applying Addiction Lessons When We Need a Hiatus). In knowing my own limitations, I have decided it is best for my addiction recovery to say goodbye as an author of Debunking Addiction.