“There is endless waiting for acquaintances whose own broken façades sicken you and remind you of the road you are travelling,” said Leonardo, a recovering heroin addict. “There are bailiffs, policemen and rip-off merchants to contend with. There are panicked rushes to inject in public toilets, a desperation to hide injection sites from employers (if you can manage to keep a job as I did) and perpetual fear of a crackdown. It is a vicious trap for the desperate, wounded and impoverished.”
The cycle of addiction can feel hopeless, but there exists a potential for recovery for anyone living with this mental health issue. Addiction is a complex struggle with many ups and downs and successes and failures, but you always have the chance to replace the roots at the core of your vicious cycle of substance dependence with adaptive behaviors, routines, and coping skills. In the end, you can create a new cycle—one conducive to recovery and a healthy future.
The key to building this new cycle is realizing that what you’re feeling—your compulsion to use, your desire for drugs, your sense of hopelessness—all stem from a complex disease rooted in biological, environmental, and genetic causes. These act as the driving forces behind the cycle that keeps you from breaking free from it. “We may think there is willpower involved, but more likely … change is due to wanting power. Wanting the new addiction more than the old one. Wanting the new me in preference to the person I am now,” said George Sheehan, a physician and author. Willpower alone cannot break you free from the shackles of addiction, whatever it may be. However, your desire for change can, as it can be used to motivate you to practice new routines that keep you happy, healthy, and free from addiction.
The Importance of Routine and Its Connection to Addiction
Our bodies need consistency in order to maintain the rhythms connected to its ability to function and respond effectively to the events that take place during our daily routine. When we eat meals at regular times, our digestive systems can prepare in advance in order to process the food more efficiently. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule keeps our body’s internal clock in check, causing us to become sleepy shortly before our regular bedtime, making it easier to not only fall asleep, but stay asleep. Data supports the importance of routine for mental health as well—people with bipolar disorder in particular can benefit from regular sleeping and eating patterns.
In fact, when it comes to addiction, routine is absolutely essential. Boredom is one of the most common causes of relapse, but with a regular routine to follow that redirects your attention to activities that stimulate and inspire a healthy lifestyle, you can avoid falling victim to this subtle trap. A stable routine will also provide you with a safety net when outside stressors—the loss of a job, the death of a family member, the end of relationship—threaten to push you back into addiction.
Ultimately, addiction itself is a routine—a pattern of bad habits and behaviors that are difficult to walk away from. In order to break the cycle, it’s important to replace it with a new one focused on establishing newer, healthier habits—and fostering your own desire to maintain them. And, while it is possible to begin this process on your own, it can be incredibly difficult when in the midst of grappling with addiction. Remember that it’s OK to seek assistance—needing help is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, being aware of when to ask for help often forms the core of successful recovery—and the best place to find the help you need is a residential treatment center.
Regaining Your Equilibrium Through a Residential Treatment Program
Using the help of professionals at a residential treatment center, you can gently ease yourself into your new routine that promotes sobriety, one that harnesses the benefits of numerous treatment modalities. This team of professionals and doctors can provide you with a safe, positive environment where you can properly address any medical issues linked to your addiction and comfortably focus on building new routines free from distraction and based on activities like:
- Mindfulness meditation, which can help with addiction recovery by promoting an awareness of the thoughts and emotions that you’re feeling in the present moment, ultimately giving you more control over them. With enough practice, you can actually create changes at the neurobiological level that promote self-awareness, well-being, and optimism, all of which can help you on your journey to creating a structured life.
- A properly structured diet can promote recovery, although the composition of the diet will depend on your addiction, highlighting the necessity of a plan crafted by professionals that understand the complexity of your addiction. For example, alcoholism treatment typically requires a diet high in B vitamins, while opiate recovery typically emphasizes high amounts of fiber and complex carbohydrates.
- Regular exercise, which is an important part of any person’s routine, whether they are struggling with addiction or not. But its ability to release the body’s natural endorphins provide a great replacement for the high obtained by drug use and make it an integral part of addiction recovery. Research even suggests that it can prevent methamphetamine addiction.
If you’re struggling with addiction, know that the foundation for your treatment and recovery—both within and after a residential treatment program—hinges on the routines that you set into motion and your ability to adhere to them. Our lives are defined by the habits and daily to-dos that cement the bricks of their foundations, and it’s these activities that we often use as a guiding light for our sense of self. By replacing the negative routines of substance abuse with healthier, more adaptive ones, you can begin your recovery and get back in touch with the person beneath your addiction that you’ve fallen out of touch with, the one your addiction has hurt the most—the real you.
Alta Mira offers comprehensive addiction rehabilitation for people struggling with a number of addictions and concurrent mental health challenges. Contact us today to learn how you or your loved one can harness the power of structure and balance of residential treatment to overcome a substance abuse disorder.
Lead Image Source: Unsplash user Jenny Hill