This post is an excerpt from the study guide which accompanies the “Overcoming Addiction” seminar. This portion is an excerpt from “Step Six: RESTRUCTURE MY LIFE to rely on God’s grace and Word to transform my life.” To RSVP for this and other Summit counseling seminars visit bradhambrick.com/events.
The goal of sobriety is not sobriety. If we fixate on sobriety, then our substance of choice is still at the center of our lives; only we focus on its absence instead of its presence. We pursue sobriety in order to live a God-glorifying, personally-satisfying life that is a blessing to those we love. That means, at this stage in your journey (if not sooner), you should be intentionally setting aside time for things you enjoy.
1. Addiction Jar:
How much did you spend on AoD per week ( $ ________ ) or per month ( $ _______ )? Create a jar where you put that much money for each interval when you are sober. This does two things. First, it gives you a more tangible expression of how much you were investing in your addiction. Second, it provides funds you were already sacrificing that can be invested in serving those you’ve hurt or pursuit of addiction alternatives.
Warning One: If cash is a trigger for you, then would be an approach that you would want to avoid, or at least modify, by allowing someone else to hold the cash and know the goal to which you are using as an incentive to enhance your motivation for this journey.
Warning Two: You won’t entertain yourself out of addiction. That is not the point. If entertainment is your primary goal, you are merely exchanging a self-destructive form of escape for a functional form of escape (which is still a worthwhile trade, but likely to lead to an addictive relationship to your new interests).
The goal is to create a balanced rhythm of purposeful activity (things that are good and worthwhile, but are physically, emotionally, or mentally taxing) and restorative activity (things that are healthy and fun, so that they allow you to engage your purposeful activities with renewed vigor).
In our day, these restorative activities likely cost money and time. The addiction jar simply helps you see that, if you choose to invest the money and time you already have differently, then you have ample resources to pursue a much more enjoyable life.
2. Engage Your Interests:
The previous section may beg a question, “What did you enjoy before addiction began to dominate your life?” If you know the answer to that question, this section is for you. If you struggle to answer this question, then the next section will provide guidance.
What are things you used to enjoy which were crowded out by addiction?
How might you feel after reviewing the list you just made? You may feel robbed. If so, allow those emotions to further cement the notion that your addiction was never your friend. It systematically dismantled everything you enjoyed about life for its own self-preservation.
You should also feel free. Now that you are, by the grace of God, declaring your independence from addiction, you can pursue these interests again. A full and satisfying life is in front of you. You can’t obtain it all at once. That is false-high mentality of addiction. But you can begin to daily take steps in that direction while enjoying the entire journey.Learning to have healthy fun again is an essential part of overcoming #addiction long term. Click To Tweet
3. Experiment with New Interests:
What if you don’t know what your interests are? Often addiction dominates phases of life when your current stage-of-life interests would have emerged. What’s the answer? Experimentation. Try a smorgasbord of random healthy activities and see what you think.
Too often people think, “I’m not sure I’ll like it,” or ask, “What if I don’t like it?” Is that how you approached your addiction? Did you come to a new substance or beverage and pessimistically wonder, “What if it’s not that good?” No, you allowed unhealthy experimentation to become an open door to destruction. All we’re asking now is to allow healthy experimentation to become an open door to delight.
Whether your list under “Engage Your Interests” was full or sparse, make a list of things you might enjoy.
One of the values for this list is that it can become cognitive filler for times of temptation. Boredom is a prime trigger for relapse (see Step 3). Anticipating or planning for a new, enjoyable activity can be a way to productively fill boredom, even if you do not have the time or money to engage the activity yet. Again, think about it: during your addiction you spent a great deal of time anticipating your next high (not just being intoxicated). Anticipation is an important part of any pleasure. We want to learn the “discipline of anticipation” for our healthy pleasures.
4. Savor Every Moment:
Life will never be a series of epic moments. In order to enjoy life, we must learn to savor the ordinary. This is the essence of contentment, the secret Paul discovered to thriving in any circumstance (Phil. 4:11-12).
The opposite of addiction will not be “highs” that are the comparable equivalents of the “highs” of intoxication. Instead, the alternative to addiction will be the ability to enjoy the “mids” of day-to-day, normal life. While this may not be as exciting as many people would like, it provides a much more realistic goal.
Read I Thessalonians 5:16-19. Consider this point of application for what it means to “give thanks in all circumstances” (v. 18); the spiritual discipline of savoring life. Living out this discipline is a primary way we “do not quench the Spirit” (v. 19). When we see and acknowledge the goodness God put in each moment, we are emboldening the Spirit in our lives. How do we do this? Consider the following practices:
- Grow the habit of asking “What is good?” about each situation and relationship you are in? If this is hard for you, then pray God would give you “eyes to see” what is good.
- Resist the tendency to grow bored with God’s blessings. We do not want to be God’s spoiled child who says we have nothing to do while surrounded by toys.
- Begin to grow your in ability to take pleasure in small things. If addiction is fueled by savoring (mentally rehearsing) bad things, then exercise the same cognitive-emotional muscle in how you savor good things.
- Allow the memory of good things to be an extension of their goodness. We do this with holidays, weddings, and other major events. Carry the same discipline into less intense pleasures.
If this post was beneficial for you, then consider reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Addiction” post which address other facets of this subject.