Resisting the Urge to Use Again
Perhaps you've done the hard work of getting clean from your addiction and now you face the new journey of staying clean from addiction...of resisting the temptation and urge to return to it when things get tough. I want to help encourage you and give you some pointers for staying clean.
When I say addiction, I'm talking more than just drugs and alcohol. I'm talking about any addiction...any activity in your life that owns you, that you go back to time and time again, even when you don't want to. There are so many people caught up in an addiction. Look at the list below and ask yourself, Am I caught up in some kind of addiction?
- Controlling others
- Excessive exercising
- Not eating (Anorexia)
- Purging (Bulimia)
- Relationships (love addiction)
- Sexually acting out
- Video games
Ask Yourself - What was I doing when I was clean?
One idea of staying clean from addiction is to go back to the basics. It's not easy breaking addictions. It's not easy, but it can be done. On my radio show, Dawson McAllister Live, I spoke with a young mother in her early 20s. She was a heroin addict.
In fact, she was coming down from her drug while she was talking to me. She told me at one time she had been clean of heroin for a year and a half. I asked her what she was doing that kept her clean. She told me she had been going to church, but then got busy with her baby and stopped going. I said to her, "Well then why don't you get back into church?" If you are addicted, ask yourself, "What was I doing on a daily basis when I was clean?" And then do that again.
When most people go back to their addiction, they do so because they quit doing the very thing that helps them. They have a maintenance problem. For example, even if you have a brand-new car, it still needs maintenance, like changing the oil. If you don't change the oil consistently, in time you'll blow up your engine. It's true with addictions as well.
Get Back to the Basics
Most people go back to their addiction because they stumble over the basics of doing their daily maintenance to stay clean. There are basic steps that most people are aware of that are important for staying clean. So, these may be things you already know...that are common sense. But they are worth repeating.
Here are three basics:
- Avoid Tempting Environments. I received a great comment from a girl named Allie. She was talking about what it takes to break a bad habit. She said, "when you get clean, then you have to stay away from whatever you are addicted to. For example, alcohol. You cannot go to drinking parties, bars, etc. Your addiction will take control of you no matter how many times you promise you won't drink at that concert next week." (Allie) You can't hang out with the wrong crowd or go to the wrong places that only tempt you or feed your addiction. Everyone knows if you are an alcoholic, you probably shouldn't hang out in a liquor store.
- Get a sponsor or Accountability Partner. A sponsor is someone you can call day or night when you feel you are about to fall back into your addiction. This is a basic. For example, there is a saying that people in Narcotics Anonymous often say, "If you are your own sponsor, you are sponsoring a fool. Ashley sent a comment to me talking about a basic in overcoming an addiction. [Get] a good support system of people who [you] can be accountable to." (Ashley) The question is do you have someone to be accountable to? Who is your sponsor? Without a sponsor, you're like someone with a noose around their neck, just waiting for the trap door to spring open. It's just a matter of time until you're hung. If you don't have a sponsor, or someone to hold you accountable on even an hourly basis, if need be, find one today.
- Never give up. Make the decision now and say, "If I am going to break this addiction, I make a commitment now to never give up. No matter how many times I fail, I will go back to the basics and start over again." I heard a quote a while back which says, "God allows u-turns. If God doesn't give up on us, why should we give up on ourselves?" Don't let shame or disappointment in yourself keep you from getting up and fighting the fight against your addiction.
I was reading the Bible the other day and came across a really cool verse. It says, Enemy, don't laugh at me. I have fallen, but I will get up again. I sit in the shadow of trouble now, but the Lord will be a light for me. (Micah 7:8) Your addiction is your enemy, just waiting for you to fall so it can laugh at you.
Your addiction will quit laughing as soon as you get up and begin the steps of recovery all over again. I really like the comment from Kirsten who's in a battle to stay clean over drug addiction. - I am a recovering drug addict, and my advice is NEVER GIVE UP. No matter who gets in your way. No matter how broken you are if you have the DESIRE to stay clean don't let anything stop you, not even drugs. (Kirsten)
It's all about doing the basics and letting God help you in your battle. If you think you have an addiction, but are you afraid to talk about it, read this blog for help. I'm behind you all the way!
For more information on breaking addictions, download our free Understanding Substance Abuse eBook.