Granted, I found tools that worked and helped me along the way, but the thing that stopped the addiction wasn’t AA, a patch, advice from friends and family, or a divorce. It was something inside me; a true exhaustion from the up and down of the addiction itself.
There are really no miracle cures for anything. There are tools that can help you overcome challenges in getting there, but the only thing that can truly make you stop something is yourself. And then by surrounding yourself with people and things that support that type of healthy vs. unhealthy behavior. I do think it’s different for each and every person.
For example, I am not a personal fan of AA. I went to the meetings, but hated standing up every meeting and saying ‘I am an alcoholic.’ I kind of felt right off the bat I was creating some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.
And the fact that I was powerless over my disease. I didn’t agree with that, either, because I had the power to check myself in to rehab, go to AA meetings, look at myself in the mirror (faults and all), take medications to help cure the addiction, or live in a place where alcohol did not exist. So I had the power, I just chose not to use it at the time, again my choice and an indication just how sick and tired I was of being sick and tired.
However, AA works for many people. I just found it didn’t work with me. The things that I have found repeatedly that help me get over my addictions include:
- Taking the personal responsibility for my addiction to the behavior, and the unhealthy consequence it is having on my life.
- Substituting that negative behavior with positive ones, including; yoga, exercise, meditation, working, writing, animals, creativity, connecting with people, prayer, doing good things for others, apologizing, and total self-acceptance.
- Medication that helps me remain stable and present enough to engage in those positive behaviors.
- Reconciling my past with the present – fully integrating emotional triggers from childhood into present day experiences – and understanding why I am triggered and how I can regulate those emotions in a positive way.
- Holding myself accountable for my behaviors, and being totally honest with MYSELF first about how / why I do them. Honesty with others comes through time, trust, and their reaction to my honesty.
- Surrounding myself with people that support those behaviors. And for those that don’t, communicate the need for them to support the behaviors, and if they refuse, set boundaries with them to protect yourself.
- Having core people in my life that truly want what is best for ME, not in any way, shape, or form adding me to their life so they can feel better about themselves.
- Trying to keep to the rule – “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” It often means I am boring and don’t talk at all. And I feel boring and lots of people think I am boring. I’m learning how to be OK with that boringness and find and give love where I am able to do so.
Fear ultimately drives us to addictions, and so much of our fear is irrational fear. Coming to terms with that fear, and finding ways to replace it with unconditional love for both ourselves and others, is the thing that will ultimately free us all from addiction. And then forgiveness for ourselves for not being perfect when we mess up, and a willingness to get back up on the horse.
Have you had success battling an addiction? What worked for you?