Saturday, March 29, 2014

People, Places and Things

One of the most foundational ideas in working on one's recovery from addiction is to avoid the people, places and things that might "trigger" you or tempt you to use the substance you are trying not to use. For instance if your usual route home leads you by a liquor store it can be very helpful to find a different way home so you are not throwing temptation so directly in your way. Places to avoid are places where you used to use or that remind you of using.

People are sometimes the triggers and that can be quite hard to cope with, especially if they are friends or family. If possible it would be great if those friends or family would not use around you. That can mean a very different interaction but it can work well. Unfortunately sometimes friends and family have addictions of their own and they have trouble stopping for themselves let alone for you. There are a lot of people in recovery who have had to distance themselves from some of their friends or family in order to be "safe" from temptations to use.  This can definitely create some loneliness and is a good reason to get connected with non-using groups or people.

In most communities there are "twelve-step" groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and sometimes there are also groups like LifeRing and Smart Recovery. There are also often government programs dealing with addictions. All of these groups can enable people to get support and companionship in recovery. It really helps to feel like you are "not alone" on this journey.

Money can also really be a trigger for people. For some, availability of cash makes it very hard to resist spending it on the substance. Sometimes people buy grocery store or other gift cards so they know they will maintain some money for food and other necessities. The financial repercussions of addiction can be quite amazing. Some drugs are very expensive and it is more common than one might think for people to lose their homes, cars and other assets within only a couple of years.

Boredom is another tough trigger. Addiction is actually very time-consuming so without it people do not know what to do with their time.  All the time formerly spent getting, using and recovering from the substance is now freed up for other activities.  Probably less than half of the people I have worked with have former hobbies and interests that they can go back to. If they did play guitar or write or garden, they can try that again. For others it time to start experimenting with different activities and hobbies and trying to find things they like. Sometimes this is kind of fun but sometimes it is just necessary!

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