A lot of people that struggle with addiction find that they have specific habits that go along with their substance abuse. These habits can involve the place where they used drugs, the methods they used to abuse drugs or even the people with whom they abused drugs. But, when people go through addiction rehab, they will begin lives free from not only drugs, but also from the habits that promoted drug abuse. Instead of continuing the old habits that encouraged the addiction, users must find new and healthier habits to stay clean. This process of creating new habits and traditions can be easy as long as users are willing to try new experiences and are committed to staying sober.
The problem is that starting life after rehab can be intimidating. Before getting help with addiction, users might have had several traditions related to drug abuse. In rehab, users will learn not only how to avoid the substances to which they were addicted, but also how to avoid the people, places and items that might encourage them to start using the substances once again.
How to Create New Habits and Traditions
Avoiding old habits and traditions from addiction can be difficult if recovering addicts don’t have specific plans in place to stay sober. So, recovering addicts should work with counselors, trusted friends and/or mentors to figure out what steps they will take to avoid the problems that might prompt relapse. One of the first things recovering users should do is to identify what their old habits are. Charles Duhigg explains that every habit consists of the following three parts:
- Cue, which is a trigger that sets off an automatic behavior
- Routine, which is the behavior
- Reward, which is what the brain uses to remember the behavior for the future
Duhigg also explains that, according to the “Golden Rule of Habit Change,” the best way to change a habit is to identify and maintain the old cue and reward, but to change the routine. Figuring out what the cue is can be difficult, but once someone identifies it, she can begin replacing that old routine with a healthier one. So, if a recovering addict’s cue for drug abuse is feeling anxious in difficult situations, she might change her habit from drinking or doing drugs to something healthier, like going for a run when she feels stressed.
Creating new habits is especially important for recovering addicts, as these habits can help keep them away from drugs, while it also teaches them how to handle painful feelings. To deal with drug cravings, recovering users might develop any of the following habits:
- Cooking for themselves, friends and family members can encourage healthier eating as well as positive social time with loved ones
- Exercising regularly: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults should exercise at a moderate pace for at least two and a half hours each week. It also clarifies that it is okay to break this time up into three sets of ten minutes spread out over each day.
- New hobbies could involve any healthy act, from taking a painting class to joining a book club
Additionally, the following acts are some healthy traditions that recovering users can begin:
- Celebrating holidays in substance-free environments
- Rewarding themselves with vacations or nice dinners at restaurants
- Playing substance-free games with friends and families
In other words, recovery is possible with the right planning and support.
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