Active addiction is essentially the exact opposite of a healthy habit. Addiction strips you of your ability to function normally; not only can you no longer participate in healthy habits, but you cannot participate in much of anything at all. Everything you used to hold in high esteem falls to the wayside, and all of the positive, joyous aspects of your day-to-day life are replaced by harsh negativity and distress. When deep in the throes of addiction, it may seem as if you will never be able to claw yourself out of the hole you’ve dug – things just keep getting worse and worse, no matter how good your intentions. The truth of the matter is that no matter how bad things have gotten, there is always a way out. In the vast majority of cases, the way out begins with medical detox. At Chapel Hill Detox, we are dedicated to helping those who have been struggling at the hands of substance abuse or dependency undergo medical detox in a safe and supportive facility. We are also dedicated to helping individuals develop healthy habits as early as medical detox – habits that they will carry with them for the remainder of their recovery journeys, and ultimately, the remainder of their lives.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services puts out a monthly newsletter called “News in Health,” which focuses on a wide range of health-related topics. In March 2018, the National Institute of Health (NIH) newsletter focused on developing and maintaining healthy habits, explaining how changing your habits and creating a new routine is scientifically proven to have a lasting, positive impact on nearly every component of your life. Dr. Susan Czajkowski, a behavior change expert at NIH and newsletter contributor, stated, ““It’s frustrating to experience setbacks when you’re trying to make healthy changes and reach a goal. The good news is that decades of research show that change is possible, and there are proven strategies you can use to set yourself up for success.” So how do you develop healthy habits, and which habits are conducive to fulfilling, long-term sobriety?
How to Create Healthy Habits
The first step towards developing healthy habits is knowing which areas need improvement – what maladaptive behaviors did you previously engage in/are you currently engaging in? For those in early recovery, some of these behaviors will be obvious. Drinking to the point of blacking out on a near-nightly basis, overdosing on heroin, stealing prescription painkillers from your grandmother’s medicine cabinet… These are all behavioral patterns that probably no longer suit you. Ceasing the use of chemical substances – that’s a pretty obvious one. Try focusing on things that are more specific to you. Do you tend to head to the local dive bar whenever you have a bad day? Do you react with anger when something doesn’t go your way; do you yell at other drivers when you’re stuck in a traffic jam? If you do things repeatedly, they will inevitably become habits at some point down the line. Even brushing your teeth becomes a habit (though not an unhealthy one, of course). In order to change bad habits, you must identify what they are and why they developed in the first place. If you head to the local dive bar when you’re upset, ask yourself why. The chances are because you turn to alcohol as an unhealthy coping mechanism; as a way to eliminate (or at least forget about) uncomfortable emotions. In order to change this habit, you must understand why you engage in it. You drink to forget. Next, you must decide if you are capable of changing this behavior on your own. Have you tried to quit drinking, only to find yourself back at the same bar over and over again? If you cannot change the pattern on your own accord, seeking professional help is likely an ideal option.
The next step is formulating a reasonable plan. How are you going to change this behavior? In the case of the local bar… how will you change the way you cope with unpleasant emotions? Rather than attempting to drown them, learn how to effectively work through them. Changing such a significant habit will not come easily, and it will – more often than not – require the assistance of a seasoned professional. A therapist will teach you how to work through emotions in a safe and productive manner, replacing your inclination to reach towards alcohol with the ability to explore your own emotions and work towards lasting emotional health.
Healthy Recovery Habits – Examples
Below are several examples of healthy habits that will undeniably benefit you as you navigate your own personal recovery journey. These are just examples, and this list is far from all-inclusive.
- Attending 12 step meetings on a daily basis. This is an important habit to form, seeing as 12 step program involvement has been proven to coincide with long-term sobriety. This is also a healthy habit that will be introduced to you in medical detox. At Chapel Hill Detox, we bring meetings to our patients, doing all we can to familiarize them with the 12 step method of recovery while actively instilling optimism.
- Sticking to a regular sleep schedule. Developing a healthy sleep schedule is essential to mental and emotional well-being. It is very likely that during your active addiction, sleep was either an intrusive and unwelcome guest or something that consistently eluded you. This is not an easy habit to develop, and it will take a good deal of self-discipline.
- Engaging in esteemable acts as often as possible. Esteemable acts build self-esteem, and self-esteem helps bolster recovery. If you feel good about yourself, you will be significantly more likely to treat yourself with love and respect. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, greet newcomers at your local meeting house, pick up a hobby you used to enjoy… do everything in your power to make sure you feel good about the way you’re conducting yourself and your life.
- Continuing with group and individual therapy sessions. Those who struggle with drug addiction and alcoholism are not automatically “cured” the moment they complete addiction treatment. Ongoing therapeutic care is essential to continuous well-being.
- Keeping up with your spirituality – engaging in daily prayer and meditation. Staying spiritually connected could mean the difference between relapse and recovery. This is a habit that will vary on a person-to-person basis, do what you can to make it work for you.
- Working with other like-minded men and women. This may mean working closely alongside your sponsor in early recovery, or helping newly sober men or women through the 12 steps once you have completed them yourself. Helping others on a daily basis is a habit you will definitely benefit from developing.
- Regular exercise and nutritious eating. Taking care of your body is essential! During addiction treatment, you will focus heavily on your emotional and mental well-being. Don’t forget about physical health – establish a routine that works for you!
To learn more about the development of healthy habits, or to learn more about our program of medical detoxification and addiction recovery, please feel free to reach out today. All you have to do is make a decision and reach out – we will take care of the rest.