As we embark upon our recovery journey, there are certain things that still frighten us and make us uncertain of our ability to stay sober, even after we’ve done a great deal of work and feel confident about our sobriety. One of these things is the temptation we still feel to use our drug of choice. We might still experience addictive urges, even well into our sobriety, even after we’ve successfully managed to get clean, and stay clean, for some time. When we feel the temptation of an addictive urge come on, our tendency is to panic. Sometimes we might overreact, assume the worst, and expect that we’ll relapse. We might feel disappointed in ourselves and ashamed of ourselves for still struggling with these urges at all. We’d like to think that doing the work and achieving sobriety means that we won’t have to fight these urges anymore, that we won’t have to battle ourselves and feel all of the turmoil and conflict they bring up for us.
When we were actively using, an addictive urge often created an intense dilemma within us. We know consciously we don’t want to relapse and fall back on our commitment to our sobriety, but subconsciously we still have limiting beliefs about ourselves, our sobriety, and our ability to stay sober. “Am I really strong enough to recover? Am I just too far gone with my addiction to stay clean? This temptation is killing me. Should I just use again? Is it really that big of a deal if I use just one more time? I really miss it. I need it. Maybe I’m not an addict after all if I was able to quit. If I could quit once, I can quit again. I can quit any time I really want to. I just need to learn how to use in moderation. This addictive urge is stronger than I am, and I can’t withstand it.” We still feel tempted by our drug of choice, and we still feel powerless against it. Sometimes at the root of that is a lack of faith in ourselves.
To help ourselves manage our addictive urges, which for some of us might be inevitable and may last well into our recovery, we want to tackle these limiting beliefs at their core, in our subconscious mind. We want to address why we feel powerless over our addictions, why we don’t believe in ourselves and our ability to stay sober, and why we’re questioning our commitment to our sobriety. The subconscious mind responds to repetition and the written word, as well as to meditation and visualization, so let’s write and repeat affirmations that empower and strengthen us, and let’s visualize and meditate on the healthiest version of ourselves. “I am strong enough to do what’s best for myself. I am stronger than any temptation or addictive urge that arises. I believe in myself. I have faith in myself. I am steadfast in my commitment to my sobriety. I choose to face my feelings, including the discomfort of an addictive urge, rather than trying to escape it with a drug.” See yourself sober, free, light and happy. Meditate on your visualization of your sober self. These tools will help you to reprogram your subconscious mind to feel stronger and more empowered as you’re working to address all of the reasons why you’re still struggling with your sobriety.
Sometimes we struggle with addictive urges because we believe we’re powerless over the drug we’re dependent upon. We formed such a dependent, needy, compulsive attachment to our drug or behavior of choice that we come to believe we need it to survive, to be our best self, to get through the day, to handle our thoughts and feelings, or to cope with life. We don’t realize that we actually have all of the inner resources within us that we need to live our best life, without anything outside of ourselves to complete us or do the work for us. We don’t need anything to fix us or take away the pain for us. We grow accustomed to turning to external sources of motivation, attention, validation, relief and comfort instead of looking within. We turn to unhealthy relationships to bolster our self-esteem and our sense of self-worth, and we can feel just as addictively dependent upon a relationship as we can with any addictive drug or behavior. We turn to our drug or behavior of choice to try and escape the pain within us we haven’t yet resolved. We’ve grown to doubt ourselves and our strength, our ability to get clean and to stay on track with our goals. We question our commitment to our sobriety because we still don’t fully believe in ourselves. We’re filled with self-doubt and uncertainty because we don’t feel completely sure of ourselves. We’ve seen ourselves fail and falter so many times before. We’ve made goals and set intentions only to go back on them. Now, in recovery, when an addictive urge arises, we expect the worst because we’ve lost our self-confidence and our faith in ourselves.
Managing addictive urges is about more than growing our willpower and proving to ourselves we can withstand temptation. It’s also about looking within at all of the reasons why we’re still fighting against ourselves and our highest good, why we’re still doubting ourselves, our strength and resilience, and why we’re still questioning what’s best for ourselves. Chances are when we look within, we’ll see the internal programming that’s still working against us, that’s contributing to our self-destructiveness. When we examine our deeply rooted fears and innermost thoughts and feelings, we’ll find the limiting beliefs and subconscious programming that are holding us back and making us feel unable to withstand temptation. As we work through these things, our willpower and resilience, our strength and commitment, will naturally rise to meet the challenges of sobriety, and we’ll naturally be able to accomplish the goals we’re consciously setting for ourselves.
Riverside Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment center offering a full continuum of care for people suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.