Simply stopping a behavior does not end an addiction. In fact, stopping an addictive behavior often creates a void or a vacuum that was managed by the addiction in the past.
Taking away a behavior without finding a positive, healthy, and beneficial replacement behavior sets up the individual to relapse. In times of stress, anxiety, fear, self-doubt, embarrassment, frustration, or even boredom and loneliness, that void will grow and grow, seeming to swallow up our personal resolution to never use the addictive behavior again.
To avoid relapse during recovery, we have to find a way to fill that void and prevent it from opening up again when we have challenges in our lives. To begin, planning for when stress or challenge occurs allows us to create a sense of personal peace and self-fulfillment we can call on when needed.
I Am What I Need
Often through addiction, people become dependent on something external to fill that void. It may be alcohol or drugs, food or sex, or perhaps even gambling or online activities. Regardless of what it is, it is a filler for that hole we experience in ourselves or our lack of ability to feel complete without the external input.
We are really all we need. We just have to find that internal spring of hope and inner-peace that we have somehow stopped up along the way.
Beginning to look internally for happiness, peace, self-fulfillment and personal satisfaction is a powerful tool in reducing the risk of relapse. When we learn we are all we need to be happy, we don’t need to look for anything else outside of ourselves.
In my book The Law of Sobriety, I dedicate a whole chapter to discovering and incorporating our values into our recovery. Through this process, it is easier to create paths forward that resonate with who we are and what we believe. This alignment allows for your values, thoughts, and behaviors, as well as your action steps, to create the inner peace and harmony you need to feel fulfilled as you move forward in life.
To get started, there are a few tasks you can do on your own or with your therapist or counselor:
- Find your personal values – many people do not think about and ponder their own value system. They may accept the values of those around them or simply have very limited awareness of values. For those with long-term addictions, values may have been stomped on and crushed, making it hard to articulate what they are and why they are important.
- List your values – writing out your values and thinking about them in mediation or in contemplation, exploring why they are important and how they align with your goals of sobriety and recovery.
- Make changes – when your values are not consistent with the life you are living, you have the option to change your life to bring alignment. Make a list of what you need to change your life a value-driven life, and then set action steps to bring about the change.
Working with a recovery coach, therapists or a counselor can be very helpful in developing a value system that will guide you through recovery on a positive and proactive mental path.