Finding peace when addicted

At times, Talk Therapy Psychology Center hosts articles and important announcements from our partners and clients. Here is a meaningful post from one of our regular contributors, Joe Cervantes:

Finding Peace When We are Addicted

If you are dealing with an active addiction you know how difficult it is to find inner peace. It’s difficult to tap into that peaceful place — the calmness, serenity, stillness, acceptance, and reassurance — when the dark cloud of addiction follows you everywhere you go.

You find yourself consumed by the negative emotions and physical pains synonymous with your addiction. Your behaviors are shrouded in regret, shame, guilt, anxiety, depression, body aches, and other negative feelings.

How do you find peace within yourself when you are knee deep in the fallout of your own non-productive behaviors? Is peace even possible when you constantly feel like you are living on shaky ground? Perhaps even a more important question: Do you even deserve to feel any peace at all?

Finding peace within ourselves during our active addiction is not only possible but it is an essential first step in facing our addiction head on. Popular wisdom tells us that we must get completely clean and sober before we stand a chance of experiencing any level of inner peace. This notion is absolutely backwards.

Seeking inner peace, not just sobriety, should be your top priority if you are looking for a long term solution to your addiction. Yes, it’s true inner peace will become exponentially easier to achieve the longer you remain clean and sober. But you can begin to incorporate life principles right now that will help you tap into your well of inner peace for a lifetime to come.

Six Steps to More Inner Peace

Regardless of how bad your hangover is today here are six steps you can begin taking right at this moment toward an increased sense of inner peace. If you consciously incorporate these feel good activities into each day over the next month you will eventually find yourself relying more on these principles for overall well being and less on your addiction.

  1. Gratitude – Although finding the good in life can be challenging, gratitude is a direct channel to inner peace. Regularly focusing on the things you are grateful for actually releases endorphins and over time changes your physiology to a more peaceful state.
  2. Self Forgiveness – Reminding yourself that you are human and are bound to make mistakes, and not beating yourself up, will result in a more peaceful mindset. This is easier said than done but consistently forgiving yourself for your mistakes and imperfections should be a daily priority.
  3. Living in the Moment – Depression occurs when we have regrets about the past and anxiety occurs when we worry about the future. Sage wisdom throughout the ages reminds us that the present moment is the most likely place we will discover inner peace.
  4. Routine – Peace can be discovered through familiarity. Even if you make poor choices on occasion and fall off track, maintaining a consistent, productive daily routine will lower your stress and help you deal with the problems that led you into your addiction.
  5. Identifying with Others – There is peace to be found in knowing that others are dealing with the same issues as you are. Recovery support groups are full of people in active addiction who are finding inner peace by connecting with and relating to others.
  6. Move Around – Changing your physiology can bring you a sense of immediate peace. Getting the blood flowing and exercising for even just a few minutes will release stress reducing hormones and endorphins. Take a brisk walk around the block for an immediate shot of inner peace.

Begin looking for opportunities to incorporate these practices into each day beginning today. Write them down. Focus on them. Do them. And before long you will begin to discover the glimpses of inner peace that your addiction has separated you from for so long. No matter what mistakes you made yesterday, peace is right here in front of you in this very moment for the taking. And remember, most importantly, you deserve it!

About the Author:

Joseph Cervantes is an advocate for the de-stigmatizing of addiction and for the development of progressive treatment approaches. As a writer in the addiction treatment space and former community organizer he has had the opportunity to work with hundreds of individuals struggling with various addictions and mental health issues. Having completed several IOP and inpatient programs himself over the past 20 years, he offers a unique perspective into the treatment and recovery experience through both a “patient” and “practitioner” lens.

Addiction and the desire to change

At times, Talk Therapy invites our friends and colleagues from the community to share their thoughts. Here is an informative post from one of our guest writer:

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

A popular saying in the recovery community is “nothing changes if nothing changes,” meaning, we need to make deliberate changes in our life if we want to beat our addiction. But what kind of change is needed and how much?

This was the most common question people would ask in the online recovery community that I used to manage. New visitors to the community knew something was not right with their life. They knew they needed to reach out for help, and they did. But like so many others battling with addiction they had no idea what change would be necessary or how much.

Of course the answer is different for every single person depending on the severity of their addiction, their willingness to change, and perhaps most importantly, what approaches align most with their personality and lifestyle. But the bottom line is true for everyone challenged by addiction. If you want to change this unwanted behavior it is going to require some work. Maybe a little, maybe a lot.

It may or may not require you to do one or more of the following:

  • Make a decision to change and simply stick to it
  • Attend a support meeting one or more times a week
  • See a counselor once a week
  • Begin an exercise routine
  • Change your diet
  • Start meditating
  • Work through a 12-step program
  • Go to yoga classes
  • Work with a hypnotherapist
  • Make amends with family and friends
  • Stop hanging out with certain friends or family
  • Get a new job
  • Move to a new city
  • Stop going to certain restaurants
  • See a doctor
  • Set boundaries
  • Develop a budget
  • Create a daily routine
  • Research recovery strategies
  • Sell the car you can’t afford
  • Leave a negative partner or spouse
  • Become educated about addiction
  • Support others in their recovery
  • Sleep less (or more)
  • Do a personal inventory
  • Volunteer
  • Go to an outpatient treatment facility
  • Go to a residential rehab center

If only the first one (make a decision to change and stick to it) were that simple and we didn’t need any of the other methods to change our behavior. Some people can simply make the decision to quit, wipe their hands clean, and go on with their life. But for millions of others who become ensnared in the grip of addiction, it is necessary to do more than just decide. We must develop strategies, routines and systems for managing our addiction on a daily basis. For many of us this is a full time job that we’ll have for the rest of our lives.

This process of developing a recovery plan is different for everyone, and there are probably hundreds more strategies that can be added to the list above. Sure, the road to recovery is not easy, but it can be tremendously rewarding and have a positive ripple effect on other areas of your life. Changing one behavior results in the determination to change other behaviors. Some of the people I’ve met who have been successful in overcoming their addiction are also the most healthy, productive, motivated and successful people that I’ve ever met.

 A good place to begin the work is by taking an honest, and maybe even uncomfortable inventory of our lives. In this process we analyze our daily routine and habits, our relationships with family and friends, our health and dietary habits, our exercise regimen, our mental well-being, our environment, our activities, our goals in life, etc.. We get brutally honest with ourselves about each of these areas and we commit to doing whatever it takes to change our behavior (even if it means contorting our bodies into unnatural positions at the neighborhood yoga studio).

In the online recovery community one thing was crystal clear week after week and month after month. The members who were taking actionable steps toward change on a consistent basis were clearly enjoying their lives much more than those merely complaining about the same old problems day in and day out. The ones who weren’t willing to hit up meetings, change their routine, dump that negative partner, etc. were the ones still drinking and using. The ones diligently working a recovery plan were the ones reporting 30, 60, 90 days, etc. of sober time, not to mention they were exhilarated and hopeful.

If you’re dealing with an addiction and have a desire to change your life this is a great time to make a commitment to doing the necessary work and begin creating a plan for your recovery. Understand that it may not be easy but it could possibly be one of the most rewarding things you ever do in your life. And remember, nothing changes if nothing changes.

About the Author:

Joseph Cervantes is an advocate for the de-stigmatization of addiction in our culture. As a community organizer and journalist in the addiction treatment space he has had the opportunity to work with hundreds of individuals struggling with various addictions and mental health issues. He is also a vocal advocate for the development of new methods and strategies for treating addiction. Having completed several IOP and inpatient programs himself over the past 20 years, he offers a unique perspective into the rehab experience through both a patient and practitioner lens.