How To Live With An Addiction

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“We’ve talked a lot about how addictions happen, how to spot them and how to get treatment and even how the lives went for the people involved,” Drraagh says, “But one thing we haven’t mentioned,” he adds, waving an arm around the room slowly, almost theatrically, “How one lives with being an addict. Sure, you can try to avoid the issue and not game again but it will likely come up and there will be quiet times where you may want to fall back in the habit, perhaps thinking that it’ll just be one quick session.”

He takes a breath, moving to sit down at his desk, the chair creaking under him. “It’s never one quick anything. One leads to two, two leads to ten, and before you know it, you’ll be back into it unless people pull you out again. So, the idea is to find other things to occupy your time. First and foremost, focus on total wellness. Now, this may sound new-age, but getting good sleep, quitting smoking, getting to and maintaining a healthy weight, seeing the doctor regularly, getting regular dental checkups, undergoing recommended mental and physical health screenings, and making other positive choices that help you to stay healthy will help you to be at your best no matter what comes your way. It is going to allow you to have less stress in your life, and likely better ways to handle that stress. Routines like exercise will keep you into patterns which can also help because if you keep to patterns you will know where and when you’re supposed to be places and people will know if there are issues.”

“Pick up a hobby, learn a new skill, find something else to occupy your time. Perhaps you like music or art, perhaps you like working with your hands in woodshop, perhaps even just the simple joys of birdwatching are more your thing. These will fill up the free time you had with activities you enjoy. If you don’t like something, change it up, find something you do like. There’s all sorts of learning opportunities with evening and weekend and online classes, classes at community centers and colleges and universities that will allow you to try new things and be good at it.”

“Do not be hard on yourself for having fallen into that pattern and if you stumble and make mistakes, do not berate yourself. Treat yourself like your best friend, compliment yourself for the things you’ve done good and try to make peace with the mistakes you have made, rather than holding them against yourself. You would eventually forgive a friend if they did something, so don’t be critical of yourself. Much like in any psychological abusive relationship, if you keep telling yourself that you are not good, you will begin to believe it,” Drraagh says and sighs, “Didn’t I say  the brain is a weirdly mysterious place we don’t fully understand?”

Drraagh leans forward and chuckles as he continues, “Since the brain is really weird, you need to take advantage of it. When you make goals or schedules, make them believable and attainable. Some people will try to make goals like people do New Year’s Resolutions, generating huge goals like ‘Go to the Gym every day’ or ‘Don’t spend any money on junk food’, but then they fail these for one reason or another and it makes them feel like they are failing these goals. Once we feel like we’ve already failed, we usually give up trying. So, make a goal like ‘Go to the gym weekly’ or ‘Cut down on eating Junk Food’ or even better wording ‘Make more healthy meals’ so that you’re rewarding yourself for beneficial actions, which is what we want instead of punishing for doing bad things. Some people reward themselves after a stressful day with a takeout meal or they skip the gym if they’re not feeling good, and by making doing that seem like failing, it becomes a bad cycle to get in.”

“The biggest thing is to be open and honest with yourself and everyone else in your life. Do not feel that you need to hide your failures, be upfront about your problems. Do not try and hide any sliding back into old habits, because hiding will make you need to lie and lying makes recovery and accepting that much worse,” Drraagh adds and frowns. “So, this is why we always say be honest and upfront and be safe with all the security of what you’re doing.”

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