By TTC Alumni, Lindsay Plunkett
Now that we’ve committed to a lifestyle devoid of mind altering substances, we are more aware of the situations that cause us to feel the urge to regress into our old habits. Recovering from an addiction doesn’t occur simply by ceasing drug and alcohol use, but by creating a life that is more conducive to a lifestyle of recovery. Avoiding high-risk situations is an important and preventative way to avoid urges that can lead to relapse in early recovery. A handy way to discern if you are placing yourself in a high-risk situation is by referring to the acronym ‘HALT.’
These feelings can be symptoms warning you to pay more attention to your emotional and mental states. We all know drugs and alcohol can produce mind-altering affects, but so can these naturally occurring physical and emotional states. Before reading too much into the urge you are feeling to act out in an unhealthy way, reflect on what may be the cause. By making sure your basic needs are met, you can react more appropriately to stress.
When we are hungry, our blood glucose levels drop in order to signal our brains that we need to eat to supply our bodies with more energy. This drop in the blood glucose level causes us to feel irritable and sometimes lightheaded. Instead of reaching for something sugary for a quick fix, try something rich in protein. Foods high in protein have the highest satiety value and leave you feeling fuller longer.
If something or someone has caused you to feel angry, your decision-making skills become very impaired. We tend to want to act out in a way that would provide us with immediate relief from these unpleasant emotions. The same goes for when we feel lonely- we want to escape the negative emotions as soon as possible with little thought to the consequence later on. We have to remember that as addict and alcoholics, we tend to anticipate a small consequence accompanying a very large reward. The reality is always the opposite- giving in to the urge to relapse is over romanticized, and the consequence is far more complex than we anticipate.
Rather than acting on impulse, utilize your sponsor and talk to them about how you’re feeling. Chances are, they’ll be able to relate and guide you through it with help of their own experience. Having someone with a bit more insight than you do allows you to view the situation from a more enlightened perspective, while still receiving reassurance that what you’re feeling is completely normal.
Being tired also affects our judgement and stress levels in negative ways. According to Psychology Today, there are four easy and effective ways to combat fatigue:
1. Make fewer decisions: have a set routine in place that will allow you to rely on going with the flow of things while still managing to be productive.
2. Start seeing green: studies have shown that just by taking a moment to gaze outside and soak in the vibrant displays of nature encouraged increased productivity and concentration.
3. Get moving: 20 minutes of exercise increases performance, and blood flow to the brain, as well as promotes creativity, improves mood, and your memory.
4. Take a break: even if you can only spare 15 minutes, setting aside time to center yourself allows you to put things back into perspective and focus on your own needs.
By keeping that continuous connection with ourselves and our Higher Power, we are more likely to stay on track and continue moving forward. Don’t forget to put yourself first.