AUTHOR PAGE

Enjoying Normalcy

Addictions

This is probably the biggest challenge recovering addicts face – enjoying normalcy after a period of addiction in any form. Addictions provide us something that we are missing in our lives, but they cost us an incredible amount as well. Many people become addicted to a behaviour or substance because they feel like something is missing from their lives. Indeed, being “normal” can appear boring when you come from a place where you were doing things to feel “good” all the time. One can argue the case “who doesn’t like to feel good?”, but the difference is in the persistent seeking out of feeling this way.

It’s important for us to consider the fact that normalcy comes with ups and downs. No one is happy 100% of the time, and that is okay. That’s normal. That’s healthy and it’s also important. Without feeling low some days, we can’t fully appreciate the day where we feel good. This is potentially where addiction stems from – feeling low and poorly so often that behaviours and substances become a go to crutch to help us cope with negative feelings and emotions.

Emotional flux is a normal part of human existence. Without our emotions, we would be cold and robotic and not be able to enjoy the everyday moments that make life worth living. The importance of feeling is to acknowledge the happy moments that happen every day. Do they need to be grand experiences? Of course not. Something as simple as taking an hour break outside in the sun, stretched out in the grass in your favourite park can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, more so than seeking your next high. Not only that, but getting outside in nature has been proven by science to naturally boost the chemicals of serotonin and dopamine – the same chemicals that are increased by drugs like MDMA and cocaine, which makes getting outside a much healthier alternative to partaking in drugs to achieve the same boost of chemicals in the brain! Not only that, but the sun provides enriching vitamin D which we need to help us absorb essential minerals such as calcium!

Normalcy can seem difficult when we first begin to experience it, causing us to long for our chosen vice to help us through the tough days, but by staying the course and turning to healthy ways to cope with difficult emotions we can help ourselves not only stay clean, sober and addiction free, but likewise becoming healthier more well rounded individuals who will grow to become functioning members of society – however that looks for you.

 

Love & Compassion
Oliver G.
[Please like and share] ©

Create A New You Through Self Care

Addictions

It seems in the world today that the words self care and self love get thrown around a lot and for good reason. Caring for yourself and your own well being is an incredibly important aspect of any well rounded individual. It’s a common belief that those who suffer from addictions have experienced some sort of trauma or issue in their lives that has led them to believe they are not worthy of happiness, love and health and they believe that because someone doesn’t care about them, then they don’t need to care about themselves.

The fact is that while having people in our lives who express their disdain for us, perhaps their outright hatred for whatever reason, the only people we need to be concerned about loving us is ourselves. Depending on where you live, what your job is and what you do you may be able to live your life without seeing the people who have caused you to have a low sense of self worth. Some people though cannot get away from these toxic, negative people no matter how hard they try, due to their individual situations and so practicing loving self care is even more important in these cases.

Self care and self love help us to build up our own self confidence in ourselves, realising that the only people we need to believe in us and love us is actually ourselves. Sure, it’s nice to be loved and liked by others, but at the end of the day we need to be okay with ourselves and how we are in order to thrive and be happy. Along the line somewhere many addicts have lost (or perhaps never possessed) this self love and appreciation, usually due to some experience in childhood where they were made to feel as though they were a lesser person because of someone else’s shortcomings.

Practicing self love can be an incredibly beneficial and rewarding way to operate. Doing things like leaving yourself love notes in places you will frequently see such as on your bathroom mirror or in your coffee container will help remind yourself that you are more than just the sum of other people’s opinions and that you love yourself just how you are and while you’re striving to become a better version of yourself.

Common words people use for self love include “Breathe”, “Believe”, and “Trust”. Perhaps you have something specific that stands out to you that works for you best. What is it? Consider making a list of these uplifting words. Some people may even have them tattooed on themselves somewhere as a permanent reminder that you are more than what people think of you. So come up with some of these words that stick out for you and keep a copy somewhere you can reference frequently when you need to.

 

Love & Compassion
Oliver G.
[Please like and share] ©

Admitting Your Mistake

Addictions

One of the first things to do when we are suffering from addiction and wanting to get clean or redefine ourselves without the addiction is to admit our mistake. Many people struggle with admitting their mistakes, especially early on when they are not likely to want to believe that addiction could happen to them. The reality is that addiction can happen to anyone, any time and anywhere. Addiction doesn’t discriminate against who it does or doesn’t choose and many people will be surprised to know that not all homeless people are addicts nor are all big name CEO’s all clean.

“Admitting your problem” or “admitting your mistake” sounds cliche and like something everyone knows, but not always. Just like when you have an issue with your computer or your car, you can’t fix what you aren’t can’t acknowledge or don’t know about. Just because someone only drinks after five or takes drugs only at certain times or places doesn’t mean that they aren’t addicts. Addict behaviour is far more complex and is attached to our emotions and psychology and can be affected by both. When we feel low or undervalued we may be more likely to reach for that drink or to seek out a hit of our drug of choice in order to make ourselves feel better. Drugs can help us find a seemingly easy escape from the everyday and when we start to seek out escapes from the everyday, we become more and more likely to begin losing ourselves in the midst of the drugs.

When addiction takes hold it can be very easy to begin to sacrifice our personal selves in order to get the drug or to enjoy the drug. Drug here is meant to refer to any intoxicating or “comforting” substance or action including over eating, over exercising, traditional drugs such as cocaine or crystal meth, or alcohol. When we are reliant on one of these behaviours or substances to help us get through our everyday lives, it begins to take over who we are, and we lose ourselves in the process.

First admitting your mistake is a key component to taking back your life and regaining control over who you are. Knowing the place you went wrong and took a different route than you had planned is key and integral to approaching it from a new mindset through which you want to heal yourself, your body, relationships and more.

Love & Compassion
Oliver G.
[Please like and share] ©

When To Ask For Help

Addictions

Addictions come in many shapes, sizes and forms and they aren’t always glaringly obvious and staring you right in the face. In truth, many addictions can be in activities, past times or other areas that you wouldn’t consider being “at risk” for addictiveness. Things like drug, alcohol, gambling or sex addiction can be pretty obvious from the outset, but what about those smaller areas like addictions to pornography, adrenaline, shopping or exercise? These can be harder to pin point when a problem is developing and it may cause the person affected to stall in finding a source of assistance to curb the addiction.

For many who experience the addictions first hand, identifying the point at which to seek help can be a bit of a grey area. Depending on the addiction it can go from “it’s not a problem at all” to “how did I lose control so quickly” very fast, seemingly overnight, going from your normal life to the life of an addict before you know it. This can be upsetting not just for you but also for all those around you as well as they watch you descend into chaos both within and without, losing control of the situation and partaking in riskier and riskier activities to feed or fund your habits.

So, when do you walk away and ask for help? There are a number of key red flags to watch out for – if you start missing work, showing up late, blowing people off altogether, stealing from either your family/partner/local businesses or starting to do things such as selling your body in order to get that next hit or money for the next trip to the casino. These are all warning signs along with not eating, changing sleeping patterns and starting to hang out with a new and unusual group of friends or frequent areas of town that are rougher and you aren’t known to hang out in. In the case of pornography or sex addictions you may find yourself signing up to websites or companies that cost money to watch videos or you may join groups with more and more extreme content.

Identifying the presence of a problem doesn’t mean that you’re a full-blown addict, but possibly that you are on the way to a potential problem. It’s different for everyone and some people may not go through the period of problematic use before they become addicted and instead seemingly go from zero to sixty in their addiction without warning. It’s important for you to identify when it’s becoming a problem and seek out help then, whether it’s from family members, friends or social programs in your own community. It’s important to remember that you aren’t alone and despite the fear you may have relating to stigma about addictions the support systems and care programs in place are there to help people just like you – of which there are far more than you might expect!

 

Love & Compassion
Oliver G.

Getting Out and Getting Active

Addictions

When we first start making changes in our lives to help us become healthier, it can seem daunting task to start getting out and getting active. Getting out doesn’t necessarily mean getting out and going for a run, going to the gym or other physical activities, but the mere action of getting out of the house can do wonders for both physical and mental wellness.

Depending on your particular location and what you have on offer in your community, joining up a number of clubs and groups can be a great way to start getting out and starting up new and healthy friendships and relationships with people who will help encourage you to partake in beneficial activities rather than sitting in side, thinking negative thoughts and repeating negative patterns. Great resources for checking out activities and clubs in your area include Facebook groups for your specific town or city, local newspapers, community boards and Church announcement boards.

Where To Start?

So, what are some options for activities you can start doing? Depending on your interests many towns and cities offer card game clubs, art classes, acting classes, writing classes, pottery, community movie nights, and more. Many things within the community often don’t cost much either, if anything, and so it makes them available to a wider array of people.

If you have been looking to spend your time giving back to the community – often a popular choice for those who have spent years with addiction issues – volunteering can be a great way to help contribute positively to the community in which you live. There are often a number of ways to volunteer, some even offer fantastic opportunities to develop skills and knowledge that can translate into helping unemployed people find jobs. Volunteering at charity shops can help develop skills in cashing and customer service – highly sought after experience which can lead to employment down the line. Even if you are employed, spending some extra time devoting parts of your day helping others can give you a welcome sense of accomplishment, which can help combat the likelihood of potential relapses and even boost your emotional and mental wellbeing.

All in all, spending time working on developing your place in the community in beneficial ways is a great way to help yourself get further down the road to recovery. Many studies have shown that substance abuse and misuse stems in some sense from a lack of engagement with local communities and with life in general, and so by seeking out ways to engage ourselves with our local area, we can help stop these opportunities of sliding back into negative patterns from ever gaining a foothold again in our lives.

 

Love & Compassion
Oliver G.

Seeking Forgiveness

Addictions

Inevitably when we indulge ourselves in our addictions and associated behaviours we will hurt someone, if not many people in ways that are sometimes difficult for us and them to accept and forgive. Sometimes seeking forgiveness doesn’t go the way we plan, depending on who we have hurt and how we have hurt them. Forgiveness and seeking forgiveness are large parts of many addiction recovery programs, and often ‘Twelve Step’ programs for the likes of drug addicts and alcoholics feature some level of seeking forgiveness, or at least seeking out the opportunity to apologise for past actions.

Starting the Process

Ultimately, it is up to each individual as to whether they will forgive and forget and accept your apology, allowing you to enter new waters together as you embark on a repaired relationship. It’s important, and somewhat upsetting, to note that not everyone will accept your apologies and that’s okay. It can be incredibly hurtful for both parties – you for seeking out your friend or relative to apologise only to have it thrown back in your face; and them for having an apology from someone they have perhaps come to distrust, having been disappointed time and again.

Receiving Forgiveness

It’s important to remember that everyone has their own ‘forgiveness timeline’. People may not appear to be overly receptive to apologies in the first instance, but given time, may come around and be more open to creating new relationships with you based on trust and forgiveness. Some people may never fully come around, and that’s okay as well. You can rest easy in yourself knowing that you have been a bigger person through seeking out the opportunity and following through with apologies, and that is something to be immensely proud of.

Moving On, With Or Without Forgiveness

Moving on from former friendships and relationships that have been damaged as a result of addictions may be somewhat more difficult. Depending on the relationship, it can have significant consequences. Many people have lost entire families and been forced to move on and essentially craft new entire lives, having to accept that former partners no longer want them to have contact with their children and the like. This can be a devastating event for someone who is making immense life changes in terms of dealing with addictions, but there is always help for those who suffer these types of situations. Many communities and doctor’s offices will offer counselling services and referrals to family interventions and the like, and can help you work towards some type of compromise if some parts of your family are not letting up on not letting you back in.

It’s always important to remember that you aren’t alone in your struggles with moving on from an addiction issue. In the world, today there are an increasing number of fantastic services and various assistance available to people with addiction issues who are struggling to find their way in the outside world as they get clean and learn how to navigate their lives again without drugs or alcohol. Online resources can additionally be very helpful, putting you in easy contact with people just like you who are learning the ropes of life again, and can provide support and camaraderie in the form of online forums and the like. So, don’t despair if you find yourself alone and struggling – you never know who you may meet that could help change your life if you seek out these resources.

Love & Compassion
Oliver G.

Addictions And Their Effect On Routine

Addictions

On the road to health, especially after significantly trying times with things such as addictions, we might find that we struggle with day to day tasks such as cooking dinners, sleeping regularly and at decent hours or even getting up and going out with friends or to work. One thing that can be immensely useful for those starting their road to sobriety is the installation and adherence to some kind of routine.

Routines help us to stick to a specific pattern, and if we have been living loosely for the past weeks, months or years, a routine can be instrumental in helping us stick to the straight path, free of substances. A routine can help us learn how to live correctly again, in the sense of living like most people do within a healthy, normal life. For those who have been really deep in their addictions, especially those who had a penchant for being out to the small hours of the morning indulging in them, adherence to a routine can make all the difference between helping forge new beneficial and healthy habits and continuing on in their former ways.

Examples Of Healthy Routines

How can we start to create healthy routines? Here are some examples of ways to start creating a good routine for a healthy, addiction free life.

  • Create a sleep hygiene routine around bedtime and getting up. Go to sleep and get up around the same time every day, within reason.
  • Set aside specific meal times to cook your food properly and to eat it properly, without rushing. This is particularly important for those with eating disorders.
  • Make time to go and do a proper food shop.
  • If you say you’re going to go volunteering somewhere, stick to your word.
  • Treat yourself each morning to your favourite cup of tea or coffee.
  • Go to the local shop for your newspaper or magazine around the same time.
  • Watch your favourite television programs regularly at their specific times. Perhaps you may even watch a specific one while you have your breakfast or dinner.
  • If you practice meditation, meditate often and around the same time each day.
  • Exercise regularly, even if it’s just going out for a short walk.

When you do certain tasks at certain times as well you can start to appreciate the subtle nuances in life that you may not have enjoyed or even been aware of when you were struggling with addictions. Things like going to the same cashier at the shop, or being noticed by name by your local shopkeeper when you start to go there regularly are things that can make every day, simple, and clean living truly a joy, regardless of your other challenges. It’s these small things that help us to become functioning parts of our local communities, which can lead to new, healthy relationships and hobbies.

Love & Compassion
Oliver G.

Becoming Well – Physical Wellness

Addictions

Anytime we are unhealthy in ourselves it can be difficult to get the energy and motivation to do the simplest tasks, and if we are generally unhealthy when we are trying to tackle a huge issue such as getting over an addiction, it can be even harder to see success on the horizon or be successful in general. Whatever your addiction, being healthy in its entirety is the end goal, and being physically and mentally healthy will help us achieve it.

Steps To Physical Wellness

So how can we start to achieve physical wellness? Physical wellbeing stems from things such as eating healthily, getting sufficient exercise and ultimately being free of our physical addictions whether they are alcohol, hard drugs or over eating. For those of us who are already on the path to full sobriety, you may have noticed more energy, better sleep or general feeling more healthy. This is a great first step towards being the best version of ourselves possible.

Health – Eating Properly

When we first embark on our journey to sobriety and health, one of the easiest things we can do to help boost our immune systems and create a better sense of wellbeing is to eat properly. It can be tempting to buy takeaways, cook a frozen pizza, order in and the like, but the truth is that many of these options don’t contain the nutrients our bodies need to properly work. We can be left feeling hungry, drained, unenergetic and generally just poorly. By eating a lot of healthy fruits, vegetables and proteins, we are giving our bodies the necessary fuel to work to capacity, especially if we are detoxing off harmful things like alcohol or drugs.

Eating right consistently is ultimately a lifestyle change. Many people will fall victim to the temptations of fast food far too often, especially if they live alone, work long hours or are lonesome. One way to help you create a great atmosphere for eating and eating properly is to set the scene for yourself if you live alone. Set the table, dim the lights, listen to your favourite music, make yourself something fancy like grilled chicken with spinach salad or something similar. Realise that you can be just as happy eating some incredibly delicious, satisfying foods that will keep you fuller for longer and feeling better too instead of reaching for the phone and calling Domino’s again.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t indulge every so often, but make sure it’s a treat and not a common thing. Once a week is sufficient for treats.

So, add one other life change to your list and start eating right to help you through your time of upset and work. You never know, you could be the next Gordon Ramsay just waiting to discover your love of cooking and culinary talent.

Love & Compassion
Oliver G.

Mental Wellness and Its Importance

Addictions

Mental health is one of the most important aspects of overall wellness. Mental health has been for years generally quite a taboo subject, lending itself to being only whispered about and for stigma associated with mental health problems to shun those experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing. Luckily in recent years there have been large drives towards the understanding and helping those who suffer from mental health issues.

When mental health is discussed now it isn’t the severe ends of the spectrum – things like schizophrenia, acute psychosis and things of that nature that used to be thought of when the words “mental health” were uttered. These days things like generalised anxiety, depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorder and more are far more common than we may suspect and it’s sometimes these very problems that can lead to addiction issues.

Mental Wellness and Addictions

Is everyone with an addiction mentally unwell? Not necessarily, but a good percentage of people are. Things like anxiety can lend themselves to self-medicating to help “control” the issue instead of seeking help to work through it. Depression is another issue that many people self-medicate themselves over, seeking things like the use of drugs like ecstasy to help boost their serotonin levels and to generally just “forget” that they have a problem.

This however leads to a slippery slope of further and further worsening conditions and issues. Facing our mental challenges head on is scary in itself, but what about when we get to those states where we can barely lift ourselves out of bed, except to reach for our drug of choice. It happens, and it is a messy state of affairs, but it isn’t irreparable. The first step to becoming mentally well is to ask for help – from a friend, family member, community member or your doctor. With more and more understanding in mental health becoming more common, a surprising amount of people have become well equipped to assist, even if it’s making the appointments for you and coming with you for moral support.

Becoming Mentally Well

So, what can we do for ourselves to stop negative self-talk that leads to downward spirals? When you feel yourself starting to say negative things about yourself, try listening to a song you really like, but really focus on the lyrics. This will help your brain think of something other than belittling yourself, and the music will help lift your spirits, if even a little bit.

Whatever issues you may experience mentally, always remember that help is available. Counselling services are particularly useful to help you work out what is bothering you and if you are unable to make it into a counselling office there are many websites around these days which offer online counselling. Have a look for yourself and see just what kinds of fantastic resources are out there these days. You might surprise yourself by finding groups or websites that really help people with challenges just like yours. As it says in recovery programs go to any length for to be emotionally and spiritual well.

 

Love & Compassion
Oliver G.

Maintaining Sobriety

Addictions

Ex-addicts will likely continue to have cravings well into the future, or even for the rest of their lives if they were using for a long time and at high doses, or where the addiction was particularly severe.

However, as time goes on, cravings will become less and less frequent, and less and less intense, as long as the conditions, recovery skills and the right motivations are adequate enough for maintaining sobriety.

Total abstinence from all substances – if they were not the ones feeding the original addiction – is not always necessary or wanted by ex-addicts.
For example, people who got addicted to substances such as prescription painkillers or benzodiazepines may find they can still drink alcohol or even moderate other drug use and have control over their use of other drugs. But others – especially polydrug addicts (addicts who were addicted to multiple drugs and could not control any drug they took) – find that total abstinence is essential.

To maintain this, ex-addicts should always remain vigilant about potential triggers and learn how to cope or avoid them. These may include places or people that remind them of their past drug use. Going to your favourite pub, even if you aren’t drinking could be enough to trigger a desire for “one pint for old time’s sake”, which could spiral into an uncontrollable two or three-day relapse into alcoholism. Seeing that friend that you used to take drugs with, even if you aren’t doing any, could be enough to think about the drug – especially if you know they are still using and could have it in their possession.

Those with mental health issues should also be aware of any worsening of symptoms, and continue any treatments (such as continuing to take medications, if necessary) and therapy schedules into the future.

New hobbies and goals should be stuck to as firmly as possible, such as going back to school or finding employment that is both as meaningful and fulfilling as possible. This will help keep the mind busy and not thinking about drugs, alcohol or food and will also provide a sense of normalcy to everyday life.

In time, most ex-addicts will embrace the new freedom they have attained by abstaining from their problem drug (or drugs), and develop new relationships, passions and jobs that prove to be far more rewarding than the painful and harsh lives they were leading as addicts. In fact, most former addicts go on to learn and grow from their hard experiences and find that they can draw on them to develop new skills they can put towards aspects that enrich their lives. For example, many former addicts end up becoming trained recovery workers, counsellors or social workers themselves, or explore careers in holistic medicines, psychology and numerous other similar pursuits where they can be in positions where they can help others get through what they went through, often to more success than those who haven’t experienced addictions themselves.

Whatever former addicts choose to do after their recovery, there is no doubt that they often come out stronger and wiser for the experience if they adequately maintain their sobriety, which is ultimately beneficial for them, their families and the local communities they live in.

 

Love & Compassion
Oliver G.

0