Guest Blog: Mind-Over-Body Addiction Coping Skills
The folks at The Recovery Village reached out to me about doing a guest blog about coping with addiction. At first, I wasn’t sure it would really be relevant to my audience since I work with women who want to lose weight. But truthfully, there are many types of addiction and food can certainly be one of them.
Whether you are someone who struggles with addiction yourself or have a loved one who does, this article afters some simple but practical ways that you can learn to cope with addiction as you move down the path to recovery.
“People who struggle with addiction — whether it’s to a substance such as drugs or alcohol, or for something like food — often face difficult situations each day. These struggles occur for many people. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 21 million American adults had a substance use disorder in 2014. Since then, the crisis surrounding drug misuse in the country has not stopped, as 120 people die each day from a drug overdose, which is now the leading cause of death for people under the age of 50.
Emotional overeating is also an issue that a lot of people struggle with each day. According to The Atlantic, 1 in every 30 Americans suffers from binge eating disorder. The Orlando Sentinel reported that there are more than 70 million people in the United States who suffer from a food addiction.
People suffering from an addiction, whatever it might be, often struggle to find coping mechanisms and become exhausted fighting against the urges accompanying their addiction, even though they know the harm their addictions can cause. They built a psychological dependence, and developed a habitual tendency to engage in the activity.
As an example, breaking that natural inclination to overeat or consume drugs or alcohol can be extremely difficult and require a lot of mental energy. Even something as simple as prioritizing a healthy activity such as exercising or keeping in touch with family over substance misuse can be a struggle for some individuals.
However, there are coping skills that can break these harmful cycles. Following these tips can help in living with an addiction and without the unhealthy consequences.
Remember That Each Moment Is a Step Forward
Every skill requires a sustained, conscious effort in order to remove cravings from a person’s mind. The short-term relief that comes from taking drugs or consuming alcohol is much easier than refuting these urges for a long-term solution. The same can be said for overeating to respond to one’s with emotional distress.
However, each moment that passes without giving in to the cravings is progress. People who are trying to cope with addiction should feel good about their progress and take pride in it. They should let that pride compound with each moment that they continue to withstand these struggles. Mark milestones for days, weeks, months and years of achievements, but don’t forget to also be proud of individual moments.
Find a Distraction
Sitting in silence, balling up your fists and willing yourself through addiction is not a fool-proof plan. One of the best ways people distract themselves from their addictive tendencies is by finding a distraction.
Creating an activity, even something such as fidgeting with a toy or object, can take a person’s mind off of whatever urges they might feel. People who enjoy physical activity can go to the gym or play a sport, either by themselves or with others. If someone enjoys video games, that too can create a distraction. Even talking with friends or family members in person or over the phone can be a positive outlet in place of succumbing to addictive desires.
Don’t Let One Setback Become Bigger Than Just One Setback
Experiencing a setback is not uncommon for people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, or anything that can be habit-forming. Dr. Omar Manejwala writes on Psychology Today that only one-third of people who are in the first year of their sobriety will continue their recovery without any resumption of misuse. He adds that reaching the one-year threshold often results in a significant increase in success, with more than half of people continuing their recovery without any relapse.
The chance of a relapse for people who are at least five years into recovery is less than 15 percent.
People who struggle with overeating or a food addiction have a similar lifelong struggle. One setback, though, is not the end of the world. That experience does not signify failure for someone’s future. Whether it’s addiction to a harmful substance or another vice, one slip-up can be revealing and help people understand what must change so that the next effort is more successful.
Additionally, it’s a single setback amid multiple successes, and focusing on the one negative rather than the numerous positives is not a healthy way of looking at one’s recovery.
One setback is just that, and it does not mean people have to restart or completely give up on what they’re trying to accomplish.
Read Other People’s Recovery Stories
No one is alone, even if addiction can make people feel that way. Read stories of people who have faced their tendencies, the setbacks they endured, the obstacles they encountered, and ultimately the coping mechanisms they used to find success. Stories such as these populate the internet.
The Recovery Village has numerous articles about tips for living with a substance use disorder, coping with co-occurring mental illnesses such as anxiety disorder and depression, and the long-term gain that comes with recovery. Other sources provide intimate details of individual stories, from the specifics of their addiction all the way to their life after drug and alcohol misuse. Even though an addiction to drugs or alcohol is not the same as a food addiction or emotional overeating, the struggles that people face each day can be similar. Reading some of these accounts can provide inspiration for people who are struggling with any type of addiction.”