Addiction is none other than a habit. It’s a pattern of engaging in the same behavior again and again. Of course, it’s a little different than biting your nails when you’re nervous. Instead, addiction is a habit on a larger scale, with more significant consequences. However, at its most basic level, addiction is a habit that must be broken.
For instance, you might have gotten into a routine. Perhaps you started out drinking on the weekends. You were in a routine of working Monday through Friday and then unwinding with a few glasses of wine at the end of the week. Gradually, that routine might have shifted a bit and you might have started to drink after work too. Then, a new routine developed. Instead, of taking a nap or spending time with family after work, you might have started to drink, knowing how good it makes you feel. You enjoy the buzz of drinking and it might be the tool that helps take your anxieties away.
Then, as the addiction progressed, you might have developed a new routine – whenever you feel anxiety, that’s when you drink. And as the brain is beginning to change because of excessive alcohol use, you might find that you’re actually drinking before work too. If you don’t want to face the day, you use alcohol to help take the tension away. If you don’t want to face the board meeting where you’ll have to rub elbows with all the executives of the organization you work for, you use alcohol to help reduce the social anxiety.
For many people, the routine of addiction is taking a drug or substance whenever they are not feeling well. However, this is precisely the problem because often use of the drug only leaves you feeling worse in the end. And though it’s tempting to take more of the drug to feel better, doing so only creates an emotional hole that’s hard to climb out of.
Breaking out of the routine of addiction can mean two things:
First, it’s breaking the habit of turning to drugs or alcohol to feel better. It’s common to use substances as a means to cope with life. However, there are many other coping tools that are healthier and that can leave one feeling better instead of feeling worse. For instance, anxiety-prone people might learn and regularly practice relaxation techniques. These practices can reduce anxiety over time and be a source of coping with life’s challenges.
Second, just like we get into a particular daily routine, there is also a routine to drinking or drug use. We might become attached to those patterns. For instance, you might be in the routine of making yourself lunch the night before for your workday. You might get attached to the ease of having that ready when you wake up in the morning. Similarly, there are attachments to drinking or drug use. You might be attached to the routine of unwinding after work with a glass of wine or on the weekend with a case of beer.
Treatment for addiction is breaking the habit of substance use – both the routine of using at certain times as well as the ways that one has come to rely upon the drug. Although it is challenging to break the habit of addiction, it can be done!
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