So what then, are some of the practical coping skills an ex-addict can utilise in their recovery and ongoing sobriety as they reintegrate and adapt to a dramatic life change?
Meditation – as mentioned previously – is now a hugely popular form of self-help therapy in mentally unwell people, and that goes for ex-addicts in recovery too. It is irrelevant or not whether you are religious or not, because anyone from any religious (or atheist) background can use the thousands of meditation techniques out there to help them change negative behaviours and reactions into positive ones. In addition, it can give great insights into what triggers ex-addict’s cravings, by making them more mindful of the thoughts and feelings that generate cravings and temptations to fall back into old negative habits and possible relapses.
Meditation groups are virtually everywhere these days – from prisons, to rehabilitation clinics, to ordinary groups in the smallest of towns in most western countries. It works extremely well for many people, which is why it is now offered and taught as one of the first line treatment options for those with mental health problems or for those in recovery from drug addiction.
As for friendships – the reality is that it is likely an ex-addict will have to cut out at least some of their former friends from their lives entirely if their friends are still using drugs. For many ex-addicts this can seem incredibly daunting as they fear they will be alone and a void will appear where they are alone. But in reality, if they do try and spend time with these friends, more often than not they come to realise that many of them were not actually their friends in the first place; it was simply that their relationship was formed almost entirely around drugs or alcohol.
This realisation can be hard to take at first, but ultimately should be encouraging to ex-addicts, because now they can focus on developing new friendships with much deeper levels of meaning and love between each other, that are infinitely more rewarding. This could be through their continued attendance at groups that have ex-addicts that have shared they trials and tribulations, or through a new job, through going back to school, or simply by going to hobby groups (such as art classes, playing sports and so forth).
This is also a great time to work on fixing any damaged relationships now – such as with family or spouses – since ex-addicts by this stage are probably in a position where they have learnt to become forgiving of themselves and to love themselves again. So, spending quality time with a wife/husband/partner and having a new appreciation for them and showing it through date nights, and treating them to special treats, like a day at a spa can really help develop newfound appreciation and camaraderie between each other. Even just watching a movie every week, or going hiking and spending time in nature together at weekends can really help create a new sense of security and trust. Activities and expressions of love and commitment such as these will quickly repair any damaged relationships and even make them stronger than ever in many cases.
Even if an ex-addict doesn’t have a partner, spending time with family and helping them with chores (such as painting the house, doing the gardening) go a long way to expressing your commitment to change. If they feel like they want to pursue a relationship now that they are focused on sobriety and staying healthy, they can always look for a partner online through the numerous dating websites out there today.
Cravings will probably still pop up, and at times even years later the temptation to use again will be strong through hard times in life, but the longer an ex-addict commits to change with these activities and coping skills the less they will appear over time, with ultimately a new sense of freedom coming to the forefront.
Love & Compassion