Dealing With Addictions
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Dealing With Addictions

I was recently asked if I would do an exclusive interview for a group called “Soulful Recovery” this week.  The timing, I believe, is very appropriate as often the Christmas season leads individuals into dens of over-indulgence.  Food, alcohol, social anxiety and late nights can develop into problems affecting relationships, personal health and the legal system.


But while drinking once or twice a year might be labelled substance abuse depending upon the amount of consumption it would not be generally classed as dependence, addiction or alcoholism.


Society often tends to view addiction as a problem.   The root problem, however, is usually the fact that individuals don’t know how to handle their emotions. After turning to alcohol or drugs as a temporary “fix”, they might find that their quick solution becomes another bigger problem than the one with which they started.


We aren’t failures if we turn to substances of behavioural addictions.  We just haven’t learned skills or developed support networks to help us cope with life and make better choices.


So, what can you do if deep down you have started to realize that your drinking, drugs or addictive activities aren’t helpful:

  1. Decide – Everything begins with a clear decision to face the facts and be honest with yourself.  You need to decide that you want to make changes before anything happens.
  2. Plan – Focus on a routine that will help you to have just one good day. Once you have learned that you will be able to have another good day and another and another.
  3. Practice self-care - Start developing healthy habits. Set a routine.  Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.  Eat regular nutritious meals, drink lots of water.  Remember, knowing is not enough.  It is doing the self-care that makes a difference.
  4. Find support - Develop a network of positive people who understand recovery. It isn’t easy to change the habit of going to a bar every week when all your friends are there.  Instead, begin doing interesting hobbies and activities where substances aren’t available.
  5. Access resources - There are many professionals, groups and online sites that will give you inspiration and encouragement.  Know where they are – before you need them!
  6. Be realistic - Addiction is not like measles that disappear after a couple of weeks. You might conquer temptation for a period of time and then be tricked into believing that you can go back to managed consumption.  Not!
  7. Forgive yourself when you mess up! All of us have times when we fall back into old patterns and make mistakes.  Just pick yourself up and start all over again.


One of the best acronyms that I ever heard for being self-aware involves the word HALT.  When you are tempted to get off track, ask yourself one question for each letter.


Am I H ungry?  If so, find something to eat.

Am I A ngry?  Figure out what has caused this and learn strategies to resolve it.

Am I L onely?  This is the time to find someone lonelier than you are.  That solves two problems!

Am I tired”  If so, time for a nap.


It doesn’t have to be Christmas to do some self-reflection.  Anytime during the year that you are feeling a little out of control, you can change your choice and ultimately your future!


How do I know?  I have seen hundreds of people do exactly that! 

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