image Conquering Addiction. Did We really Prevail?

Name it and most likely I’ve tried it. I am a curious person by nature. One of my mantra’s is also to try everything at least once, moderation is for cowards.

Most of us understand that particular mantra refers to trying new and exciting things; to be open minded and to experience everything this world has to offer.

However, there is a dark side to that theory of thinking if we practice it without any filters or boundaries it can lead to addiction. Some of the things we try are unhealthy and can lead to a continuation of unhealthy rituals and patterns. It can lead to the formation of a repeated patterns of replacing one addiction for another.

Most addictions we do not treat as a serious threat.

We tend to only label the most serious and alarming health addiction. Smoking, alcohol and drug use are the big three that most of us would cast our dispersion’s and we conveniently ignore some of the other substances that can potentially be equally as harmful to our mental and physical health.

I could write an epic ballad of all the addictions I have battled in my lifetime. For all the addictions I have conquered, another emerged in its place.

I had a brief addiction to alcohol. For a while I would drink every day. I would wake up with a massive hang over, try to recover my senses as quickly as possible and begin drinking again the next day.

I did not like the feeling of the hangovers and recognized that I needed to stop. So I quit. I found life without alcohol to be less fulfilling in the early stages. Even though I was feeling better physically, mentally I lacked stimulation. I needed a replacement and I wanted to try something new. Enter my drug phase.

I’ve been addicted to many drugs at different points in my life. It all began with one little crushed up pill at a party I was at when I did not feel like drinking.

To this day, I still remember the instant gratification of extreme euphoria that rushed through my body. I was hooked immediately.

I continued to chase that high for a number of years. It lead me to experiment with harder drugs and more tantalizing highs. It consumed my every waking hour for years to come after that first encounter.

Those of us who have addictive tendencies can try something once and be hooked for life. There are also those who can do things in moderation. I can’t. If I do or try something once and it makes me feel good I am instantly hooked.

I lost a lot of friends and blew every penny I had over those four years of my life. It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom that I decided I needed help to quit. I had no friends, no money and nothing in my life that made me feel good. So I got help and quit.

I sought professional help through an outpatient medical clinic that helped me get clean. However, I can’t sit here today and say I am one-hundred percent clean. I was prescribed a medication that diminished my withdrawal symptoms. It did work though, and I lost my cravings for harder drugs, but I substituted one medication for another. Currently, I am still taking that medication under the supervision of a physician.

Again I began to feel better physically, got back in the gym and regained my muscle mass and tone. However I again to began to lack mental stimulation. I had tools necessary this time to help me from falling back to drugs and alcohol.

I needed to replace, yet again, a void in my life. I picked up smoking. I also began consuming unhealthy amounts of soda. “A lesser of two evils” is how I justified it to myself.

Today I’m proud to say I have been drug free for over seven years (and counting.) However I still have addiction tendencies. I have learned a lot about myself during all my trials and tribulations. I am an addict.

Those of us who know serious addiction know we never stop fighting the battle of addiction. We never use the term “former addict” we presently use and will always use the term “recovering addict” no matter how much time has passed since our last dance with an unhealthy substance.

Most addicts practice addiction on a daily basis. It’s a matter of degree and control as opposed to conquered demons. Many of us give up the harsher addiction and replace it with a lesser evil.

Some of us kick smoking to become over eaters. We need that oral fixation. Those of us who kick drugs tend to pick up another unhealthy habit such as massive caffeine consumption because we need something to stimulate our sense and something to grasp on to and continue a pattern. We crave routine as much as we crave new experiences. Us addicts are walking contradictions.

According to many medical journals and doctors I have spoken to, most addicts have a high IQ. This was interesting for me to read and hear about. We addicts need mental stimulation. Our minds and bodies are constantly processing information at a more rapid pace and when we feel bored or unsatisfied with an aspect of our life, we tend to turn to a substance that will engage or distract our active minds. We struggle to accept complacency.

Now we must begin the quest for channeling our addiction in to positive outlets. A series of cliches begin to emerge for us addicts. However these cliches are healthy practices and alternatives for substituting one unhealthy substance for another. We constantly hear meditation is the answer. Yoga, spirituality or a higher power to yield and surrender our helplessness to accept our flaws is the answer for many of us.

The truth is they do work. However they only work if we truly believe in them.

Mediation and spirituality helped me conquer my addiction and control substitutional addictions.

Clearing my mind every day and opening all of my sense to my surroundings helps keep me centered and slows down my active mind. The peaceful sounds of nature all around me, the wind in the air and the feeling of the warm sun on my face stop me in my tracks.

I am not an overly religious person, I was raised Catholic and I’m still curious and on the fence with religion. It may be helpful to others to submit and surrender to a higher power. It’s works for millions of addicts. For me, it was the discovery of spirituality that has been the most benefit.

My spiritually keeps my active mind engaged with questions about my life’s purposes. It also helps me appreciate the beauty of connecting with loved ones and people I care about. My spirituality has also helped me appreciate the art of this world around me and special places I escape to such as the beach and ocean that fulfill my soul.

These all can still be consider substitutions of addictions since many are daily practices. These have worked for me. These practices have helped me control and understand my addictive personality traits.

The definition of insane or insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I am an addict. I always will be. The insanity in which I lived in was that I kept doing the same things while trying to quite one substance hoping for different results. I kept hoping that by substituting one addiction for another, that the lesser of the two evils would prevail. That was not always the case. It wasn’t until I finally discovered a healthy way to clear my mind of all the noise and distractions and accept who I am that I was able to finally move on with my life.

Meditation and my new found spirituality have helped me conquer my addictions and control the substitutes I interject in my life. I am now experiencing different results. I no longer look for unhealthy substitutes to fill voids in my life.

Acceptance and understanding of addiction is the fundamental key to recovery. Once we understand and accept, then we can begin to experiment with what works best for us to conquer all of our serious and less serious addictions that affect our lives and the people who care about us. Recovery is a daily struggle. We can mitigate that struggle by the new daily activities and rituals we use to substitute unhealthy for the healthy substitutions.

For those of us who fight the battle daily, or know of someone who fights the battle, understand that it isn’t easy. The only way to improve is embrace the insanity and brave the storm until we truly can accept who we are and find the best methods for each of us individually to conquer our demons.

Author: Adam Wilkinson

Image: flickr

Recommended read: About Unchained Voice

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