According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, you have the power to change your life. No matter what bad habit you’re facing, including drinking and drug use, you can change it. No matter the unhealthy routine you’ve got in place – eating junk food, little sleep, substance use – you can make it different.
Here’s what Charles Duhigg has to say about habits:
“Hundreds of habits influence our days – they guide how we get dressed in the morning, talk to our kids, and fall asleep at night; they impact what we eat for lunch, how we do business, and whether we exercise or have a beer after work. Each of them has a different cue and offers a unique reward. Some are simple and others are complex, drawing upon emotional triggers and offering subtle neurochemical prizes.
But every habit, no matter its complexity, is malleable. The most addicted alcoholics can become sober. The most dysfunctional companies can transform themselves. A high school dropout can become a successful manager.
However, to modify a habit, you must decide to change it. You must consciously accept the hard work of identifying the cues and rewards that drive the habits’ routines, and find alternatives. You must know you have control and be self-conscious enough to use it – and every chapter in this book is devoted to illustrating a different aspect of why that control is real.”
First, it’s incredible to know that any habit is malleable. Any old habit can be changed. This alone can be a source of hope and inspiration – you’re not stuck with alcoholism or drug addiction for the rest of your life. It’s possible to change!
And if you’re ready and willing, then all it takes is some hard work. We all have habits that are not good for us – whether it’s drinking too much coffee, smoking, or not exercising – but knowing that we have the power to change them is what counts! Knowing that we are in the driver’s seat takes the powerlessness of addiction and throws it out the window.
What’s important to remember, however, is that we must be willing to accept the work that’s involved in changing . The author points out in the third paragraph above that it will take some commitment to notice the cues and rewards that drive the habit. It will take some perseverance to change our routines and find alternatives. For instance, if you were used to drinking every night when you got home from work, then it’s going to take some effort to change that routine – but it’s possible!
However, keep in mind that just because you’ve made a clear decision to change doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen overnight. You might become vulnerable to relapse. You might give in to your cravings. You might feel the urge to return to “the good ol’ days”. Yet, even with a relapse, you can turn it around and return to the program that’s helping you stay sober. You can continue to turn your life around. Even if you’re making 3 steps forward and one step back, at least you’re moving forward. Successful long-term sobriety is possible because habits are malleable. Just as the author says – The most addicted alcoholics can become sober. However, you must consciously accept the hard work that comes with it. You can do it!
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