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
- 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.