Substance addiction is a very complex issue, and it affects every person who experiences it in a unique way. For some, addiction starts as a way of escaping reality, coping with difficult circumstances, or simply enjoying the feeling of euphoria and happiness that some illicit drugs create. However an addiction starts, it will eventually progress into a routine. For example, a person with a burgeoning alcohol abuse disorder may start buying liquor every Friday after work. After a few months, this progresses to buying more for the entire weekend. Eventually, the person will start experiencing a ritual-like fixation on securing the next dose of alcohol.
Understanding Rituals In Addiction
Many people who have recovered from substance abuse report that the addiction rituals of obtaining, preparing, and taking drugs are just as addictive as the drugs themselves. These psychological patterns and unhealthy habits take the longest to overcome, and they are the main cause of relapses. For example, it’s common for people struggling with heroin addiction to reporting that they experience an onset of withdrawal symptoms, but those symptoms subside as soon as they “score” or secure another dose. The withdrawal doesn’t come explicitly from the lack of drugs in the person’s system, but rather the anxiety about securing that next dose.
The psychological connection to the act of securing the next dose is very apparent among smokers. The oral fixation of bringing the cigarette to the mouth and drawing on it is a hard habit to break, which may be why personal vaporizer devices have exploded in popularity in recent years. These devices allow people to consume nicotine without the added negative health effects that accompany smoking. Instead of burning tobacco leaves, a vaporizer uses electricity to vaporize a special liquid composed of vegetable glycerin, flavorings, and nicotine. Vaping is very similar to smoking in many ways, and people who have successfully quit cigarettes using vaporizer devices report that these devices satisfy the oral fixation many find so difficult to break.
When it comes to more significant addictions such as heroin, methamphetamine, or alcohol, a replacement device isn’t an option. Instead, it’s essential for people struggling with addiction to learning new behaviors to replace their existing problematic ones. Recovery is a long-term process that involves several types of counseling, therapy, and deep introspection. During this process, people recovering from substance abuse disorders learn to analyze their lives from sober perspectives and develop new ways of focusing their energy on healthy sober habits.
How Recovery Services Help
Throughout substance abuse recovery, a patient will receive treatment for the physical effects of addiction, so he or she may confront the psychological and emotional toll with a healthy body. Medical assistance is tremendously beneficial in this regard and typically significantly cuts down the time the average patient will experience withdrawal symptoms. After detox, the patient moves into a curriculum of treatment that addresses the full spectrum of the patient’s substance abuse. While detox breaks the physical hold of a substance, rehab counseling and ongoing therapy will teach a patient how to control addiction urges.
One of the main goals of any worthwhile substance abuse treatment program is relapse prevention, and this requires taking a very close look at the patient on an individual level. If a patient wants to learn how to control addiction urges, he or she must be willing to work with substance abuse counselors to uncover the underlying roots of addiction cravings and urges. Sometimes this means cutting off contact with people who enable addiction or who are still involved in addictive behaviors. For others, it means psychological counseling to address a mental health issue. For some, recovery may entail both, or a wide range of combined therapies and treatments to address addiction on an individual level.
Retraining The Addicted Brain
People in recovery from substance abuse may have difficulty overcoming their addiction triggers, and this process is time-consuming. Some may miss the thrill and feelings of danger associated with scoring another dose, while others may feel as if they have lost important coping mechanisms when they enter recovery. The physical end of recovery is typically the easiest; the psychological process of unlearning destructive behaviors takes much longer and is a far more complex issue.
Building Healthier Habits And Relationships
During substance abuse recovery, patients will have access to a variety of therapies and counseling options that address different aspects of recovery. Some things such as yoga, massage, and meditation can help manage the physical effects of addiction, while other therapies involving art, music, and creativity can encourage the development of new, healthier habits. Recovery will also teach skills for handling relapse triggers, such as encountering familiar faces and places associated with past substance abuse activities.
Throughout the process, it’s up to the individual to develop a personal set of healthy habits to replace prior addictive habits. Detox will remove the drugs from a person’s body, and counseling will help manage the psychological and emotional effects of addiction, but it’s up to the individual to learn new habits and develop coping mechanisms for the stresses of daily life. Eventually, with enough practice and persistence, old urges will fade and become more manageable, and the skills learned in recovery will become second nature.
What Worked For You?
If you have successfully beat an addiction, which habits worked best for you? Fight Addiction Now wants to know what techniques and therapies were most beneficial in your recovery journey. Did you replace an old craving for drugs with a craving for exercise? Which relapse prevention techniques have been most valuable to you? Did you develop new rituals to replace your old ones? Join the conversation and let others who may be just starting down the road to recovery benefit from your experience. No one gets through substance abuse alone, and your contribution to the discussion may be the encouragement someone else needs to begin their journey through recovery.