The other day I saw a video of a man breaking the news to his son that his mother died of an overdose. Somehow the logic was that if people got to voyeuristically look at how broken up this eight-year-old child was at the reality of losing his mother, they wouldn’t use and put their child through the same thing. This, of course, is not a deterrent really. It has the same effect as driving slow past a fatal car wreck. People love to look but they’re most likely still going to text and drive, still going to weave in and out of traffic — essentially still do the things that cause fatal car accidents.
I don’t think a single person in the history of the planet has ever gotten the compulsion to get high and then said to themselves, “Wait! Stop! I don’t want that to be my son hearing about how I died…maybe I’ll go to a meeting instead.” The decision to get stop getting high is a very personal decision and it happens internally, and it usually doesn’t come from watching a video.
So, what are some ways we can battle the feeling that we want to use after we’ve made the decision to stop? I’ve got a few ideas that from the eight and a half years I’ve put together so far:
1-Keep a Gratitude Journal- There’s an old expression that goes, “Grateful addicts don’t use.” I’d take that a step further and say that, of the many people I’ve seen in meetings that have relapsed and died, it is usually the ones who have no gratitude. Now, having had my own share of shitty things happen in the past two weeks, I know how hard this can be. We need to do it anyway. It’s kind of life or death. I start small, though. I’ll write: number one, I don’t — at this moment — have a pulsing toothache. Number two — I’m not — at this moment — in a prison cell. These are truly things to be grateful for. Even if your girlfriend ditched you yesterday and hooked up with your best friend, you have to still find something to be grateful for. Some days are obviously going to be a little harder than others, but do it everyday anyway.
2-Find someone who needs help and go help them — We live in a world where you don’t have to look too far to find someone who needs a little help. A friend or relative who is struggling is a great place to start. If you have $2 and they have nothing, you’re in a position to be able to help. Besides that, it does the thing we, as addicts, need the most: it gets us out of our own heads for a minute.
3-Structure Your Time — As addicts in early recovery, free time can be poisonous. Make sure you know exactly what you’re doing when the day begins. Will you be going to a meeting, or a church or anywhere where you can spend a little time with a few people who are also trying to stay sober? Will you be exercising, praying, meditating — anything to fill your time and make you a little tired at the end of the day? These are the kinds of things that are going to help you stick around — as annoying as they may sound initially. Staying alive is a process that requires a little effort for addicts and alcoholics, so try to put in the effort.
4-Call a sober person — I know that there are a lot of people who are down on 12-step meetings because if you are one of the very many people who use medication to not get high (suboxone, methadone etc.) you might feel a little too much judgement in the rooms. I get it. You can still get phone numbers of one of the few people who will not judge you and call them when your wheels start spinning. Remember, we’re talking about your life. It’s important.
5-Get off your computer and do something — Sometimes I think Facebook and Instagram are just as bad as hanging out with people who are using. These apps were designed for people to create lives that don’t actually exist for the express purpose of making other people feel bad about their lives. Whether you live in the suburbs, the country or the city, there is someplace you can go to get free of the stagnation and bad thoughts. Put your boots on and get going.
Ummm…make sure it’s the opposite direction as your dealer’s place, for God’s sake.
These are just a few helpful hints. If you have others, feel free to drop them in the comments.