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8 Avoidable Mistakes Made When Trying to Quit Addiction


Elevator controlBreaking free of alcohol or drug addiction is a matter of life or death for many. People die every day as a result of this type of behaviour, and the majority of these individuals will have believed they had plenty of time to sort out their problems. If you have developed the motivation to break free of addiction then it is important that you treat this as a precious opportunity. You do not know if this could be your last chance of a better life, so it is best to treat it as if it is. In order to get the most from this opportunity, you need to go about things the right way.

It is common for individuals to require a few attempts at recovery before finally breaking free. Saying that ‘relapse is normal’ can send the wrong message; it does not mean that you have to fail an x number of times. There is no guarantee that you would ever be able to make it back after a relapse, so you need to do everything possible to avoid them. The reality is that people relapse because they make mistakes but, by taking steps to avoid these mistakes, you can go a long way to achieving long-term sobriety. Here are just eight of the common mistakes that should be avoided when trying to break free of alcohol or drug addiction.

Mistake 1: Refusing Help from Others

It is true that some people do manage to break free of addiction without too much help from others. The problem is that these individuals are the exception rather than the rule. If you have already tried to do it alone but have failed, you are likely to keep on failing until you get the right type of help. There is nothing weak about asking for the help you need; all the most successful people in the world got where they were by taking advantage of available resources. If your pride prevents you from even considering rehab or recovery groups, you may be missing the best chance you have of achieving freedom.

Mistake 2: Not Being Fully Committed

If you are secretly hoping that you would one day be able to drink or use drugs again then this means that you are not fully committed to sobriety. It would signify that you would not able to give total commitment to this new life, and that is a real problem. Making this type of life change is likely to require all of your inner-resources and any ambivalence just weakens your resolve. The fact that you are not committed would also mean that you are just looking for any excuse to relapse. Once you have been sober for a few months and the pain of addiction starts to become a distant memory, you are sure to start asking yourself what all the fuss was about.

Mistake 3: Wanting to Always Do Things Your Way

It is common for individuals falling into addiction to develop an attitude to life that is wilful and stubborn. This can start as a defence mechanism but could turn out to be one of the biggest handicaps to making progress in recovery (or indeed, life in general). Being a substance abuser means going against conventional wisdom, so this rebellious streak could become a strong part of your nature. The problem is that if you always want to do things your way, it will be very hard to teach you anything new.

Alcoholics Anonymous like to say that ‘my best thinking got me here’. This is a humble admission that the person does not have all the answers and that his or her way up until now has not worked. In order for you to be able to truly break free, you need to be willing to do things differently in the future. The good news is that once you start to benefit from the results of doing things a better way, it just automatically becomes your way of doing things; it is making yourself develop a positive habit.

Mistake 4: Demand Resistance

Some people in early recovery are not only a little wilful but they actually fall into the category of demand resistance as well. This is a type of behaviour that individuals pick up in early childhood and is usually because of having parents who set unrealistic standards for the child. Demand resistance means the individual automatically resists anything that feels like a demand – even any demand the individual puts upon him or herself. It is possible to unlearn this habit of automatically saying no to things, but it does require the individual to be willing to leave his or her comfort zone.

Mistake 5: Settling for Physical Sobriety

Giving up alcohol would definitely lead to some improvements in your life but, if your goal is a happy, fulfilling future, you will probably need to do more. The problem is that physical sobriety only really gets you back to where you started and all the reasons you fell into addiction are likely to be still there. If you do not find a new way of coping with things, the chances are that you are going to relapse or turn to new maladaptive behaviours. There is also the danger that you develop dry drunk syndrome, which is where you are physically sober but continue to act as if you were in the midst of addiction.

Mistake 6: Continuing to Engage with a Substance Abuse Culture

If you continue to surround yourself with people who abuse drugs, or you still spend a lot of time in pubs, you would be allowing too much temptation in your life. This is also usually a sign that you are not fully committed to your life because you still want to act as if you were drinking or using drugs. Breaking free requires you give your life a radical overhaul, which usually requires letting go of certain friends and no longer visiting specific places.

Mistake 7: Inability to Control Anger and Resentment

The problem with anger and resentment is that it is as if you are drinking poison in order to hurt another person – the only person who really gets hurt is you. These negative feelings end up controlling you, preventing you from thinking rationally. It is vital that you get a handle on these emotions because it only takes one anger outburst to destroy everything you have created in sobriety. There are many examples of sober people who got angry and they next thing they knew they were in a bar drinking. One of the benefits of going to rehab is that you can begin to develop effective strategies for dealing with anger and resentment.

Mistake 8: Treating Recovery like a Prison Sentence

There can be a real sense of achievement in counting the days since your last drink but, if you become too focused on counting time, it could mean your life begins to feel like a prison sentence.  The goal of sobriety is for you to enjoy some well-deserved happiness, but it would be up to you to get the most out of every day. It should not take you too long in sobriety before the focus moves from staying sober to enjoying your sober life and, when this happens, there will be less need to count the days.

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