No more drugs or alcohol!?! This is something most addicts or alcoholics have said to themselves or others at least once or twice without success. With today being the first day of 2019, I decided to consider my own resolutions. Reflecting on my past resolutions, I realized a common thread. Resolutions are only successful when I integrate some sort of new behaviors into my life to substitute for the old behaviors.
a firm decision to do or not to do something
Why do all my New Year’s resolutions fail?
When considering my sobriety, I remember countless times I would decide, no more drugs or alcohol from now on! After some time and repetition, I would get so uncomfortable being sober I would feel like I was going crazy. My anxiety and depression were extremely high, which brought out irritability or anger towards anyone around me. Eventually, I would get extremely uncomfortable with myself and very insecure. I resorted back to justifying another drink or drug, saying I will just do a little this time and learn to control it.
The problem was, I could never control it even though my mind told me otherwise. The days of having a couple of beers and a joint in the first week after a relapse turned into using dangerous street drugs…. AGAIN!! With that came misery and delusion leading to suicidal thoughts and severe depression. Even more frightening were the health complications that only more drug use could cure. Of course the end result, hospitals and jails. Better than dying at least!
Changing Behaviors Through the 12 Steps
After completing residential treatment, studying the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, and listening to happy sober people in meetings, I began to understand that I needed to do some serious “internal housecleaning” to have a chance at staying sober. This meant, I needed to actually replace my addiction with something else in order to achieve sobriety. This meant that I needed to work the steps and connect to a higher power or higher purpose in my life. After doing some intensive therapeutic work, I came to the same conclusion. My old ways of thinking and behaving needed a major upheaval if I wanted a shot at staying sober. I had to replace my behaviors with new behaviors which then would lead to new thoughts and insights about myself.
The Doctor’s Opinion
Men and woman drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. The effect is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the truth from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one. They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort that comes at once by taking a few drinks-drinks they see others taking with impunity.
After they have succumbed to the desire again as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink again. This is repeated over and over, and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope for his recovery.
Big Book of Alcoholic’s Anonymous
Feeling Connected and Aware of My Surroundings
After completing drug and alcohol rehab and working the 12 steps, my internal feelings began to shift.
I was starting to feel relief in sobriety.
Soon, the desire to get high and drink was removed from my consciousness and I started to feel more connected to the world and people around me. Because my attitude was getting better, my external world was getting better as well. I was able to hold a job and make money and clean up my legal issues. I was also able to amend some old relationships and become a better friend and family member. The more positive feedback I received from my new lifestyle practices, the more that I wanted to expand my new healthy choices and belief systems.
Healthy Body, Mind, and Spirit
Today my recovery consists of implementing health into all 3 areas of my life which are my mind, body and spirit. I fuel my body with healthier choices like better eating habits and doing yoga. I fuel my mind by attempting to learn through reading and writing, as well as challenging myself every day to think critically and focus on my goals for self-improvement. And, both my mind and body seem to thrive better when I work on my spiritual condition. I work on this through practicing things like meditation, the 12 steps, going to meetings and trying to contribute to my society and the world. In these ways I feel connected to a higher power and the thought of using and drinking ceases to exist for me.
Loving My New Way of Life
Today, instead of waking up every morning trying to, “just say no to using,” I’m saying “YES” to so many other aspects of life, and the need to cover up my insecurities, ceases to exist.
Now no more drugs and alcohol is a reality…. I DON’T WANT TO LIVE THAT WAY!
Today, by practicing this new way of life by replacing old behaviors with the new, I get to love who I am and love life which for this addict/alcoholic, is a complete miracle.