These steps to handle (and beat) an addiction are not perfect, but they work:
- Breathe in. Nice and slow. Count to three as you inhale.
- Breathe out. Again, nice and slow. Count one, two, three as you exhale.
- There. Six seconds. You just spent six seconds without it.
- Now again. Breathe in. Breathe out. Ten times. You've just spent a minute. It didn't control you for a full minute.
- Try to string together a few minutes. It's going to be tough. You're going to think about it. You can't help but think about it. It's powerful. It's got you. But not right now. Right now, you've got you under control. Breathe.
- Has it been an hour? Check the clock. It's been an hour. Sixty minutes have gone by, and you've stood strong. Sixty minutes now belong to you.
- Can you do that 23 more times?
- You need to talk it out. You need to hold it together. You need to call your most trusted friend(s); the one who knows you well enough not to tell you everything's going to be okay. You need to talk to someone who will listen to the lies you've already told yourself and believe, and tell you they are lies. You need that person who knows you better than you want to know yourself right now.
- If you don't have a person like that in your life, you need to find a group. Any group. Even if your addiction isn't alcohol or narcotics, go to the group. Go somewhere, anywhere, where you cannot lie to yourself, and you cannot escape truth.
- You are alone now. It's night, or it's day, or it's a few days or weeks later. You're alone. You've beat it this long. Things are hard. You remember how it felt. You miss it. But you know it's no good for you... But if you can just get one fix, just one fix, you'll be alright. You've gone this long. You deserve a reward. You deserve it.
- Did you see the lie? Did you call it out? You deserve a reward which is indulging in the thing you've kept from indulging in. It's a lie. It's like saying "if you can go x days without killing yourself, your reward is killing yourself." It's your ego. It's protecting you from the pain. It wants you to believe it's you. It wants you to believe it's got your best interest in mind. It doesn't, it just wants the pain to go away.
- What have you replaced the time with? What are you doing with your days and nights now that you're not in the stuff? What are you doing? Do you have a replacement? Find a replacement. Write. Draw. Bike. Run. Swim. Talk to your friend. Go to your group. Let the clock turn in your absence; earn more minutes and more hours and more days clean. You're in control.
- You've gotten past the pain. You've gotten past the cravings. You see an old friend from the scene, or hear a story from the old guard, or get a whiff of that smell; that familiar smell... LEAVE. NOW. They're not your friends. Addicts are addicts first, and whatever else they may be second. They are not your friends; they're fixers. Misery loves company. Don't know them. Don't want to know them. Leave. LEAVE.
- When was the last time you even thought about your addiction? Remember? You should. Keep track. Know that you're STILL susceptible. Even if it's not the old stuff, you've got an addict's blood. You've got a predisposition for escapism. You've won so many battles by earning those minutes and hours, days and weeks, months and years being in control. To win the war: You must build a life you do not want to escape from.
- What have you done differently? What's new? Who are you now? Do you recognize yourself? Do you even know who that person that inhabited your body was? I hope not. And I hope you never forget who they were.
(This post is a special request from a reader. I hope it helped.)