So I was thinking about something that came up twice last week. It has to do with thought processes in early recovery. I can remember early on, I thought that I was supposed to stop wanting to use drugs and alcohol and I felt like a failure every time I thought about them. Coincidentally this was quite often, as I can assume is generally the case with anyone in early recovery. So, here I am beating myself up day in and day out because I wanted to not want to drink or drug anymore, but for some reason it wasn’t just going away like I thought it should. To make matters worse, during this time my emotions were all over the place. I was feeling things I hadn’t felt in a hot minute. And, to top it all off, I was coming to the realization that I had utterly destroyed my entire life and I was suppose to not think about alcohol or drugs??? Are you freakin kidding me? Of course that’s what I was thinking about! It’s almost the only thing I thought about for the first little while.
Even after some time my instinct would still take me straight to the booze or the dope in my head, but it had gotten a little easier. That didn’t take away the guilt though. The guilt persisted for a while. I still thought, for quite some time actually, that I just should never think about drugs or alcohol. Then I had a counselor tell me something that provided me with one of the most profound moments of clarity I have had since starting my journey in recovery. He said, “I still think about drugs and alcohol every day, but what has changed is the WAY that I think about drugs and alcohol.” MIND=BLOWN….
Wow. That moment right there fundamentally changed everything about recovery for me. I had been sober almost a year and I thought I was failing because I kept having weak moments where I wanted to give in and get high, completely ignoring the fact that I was using the resources provided to avoid a relapse! But right there, my whole recovery plane shifted. I realized I might not be able to stop my brain from going to what it had been trained to rely on for relief, but I could re-route the journey.
In the rooms they call it “playing the tape through.” That same counselor pointed out that he practiced taking his mind to all the negative things associated with drinking and drugging like going to jail, disappointing family, etc. He added that over time it just comes naturally and the thoughts don’t associate with pleasurable memories. He was dead on.
My point in all of this is to let the new-comer know that it is completely normal to have those thoughts. At 1 day, 1 month or 1 year, doesn’t matter that I have a thought, what matters is the action I take. If I have a thought about the drink or the drug I need to take it to the jailhouse, to the ER after I OD’d, to the look on my mother’s face when she found me OD’d in her bathroom, or to the countless other negative things I could associate with drinking and drugging. I essentially have to take preemptive measures to outmaneuver this disease. I encourage you, if you are new and beating yourself up you are not alone! Reach out! Tell on your disease! I promise no one will look down on you for entertaining the idea to take that drink or do that drug because we all have! Hang in there, you and God got this! Have a great week everyone!!