Being an addict is all about getting a fix, so if you’re going to be sober, you need to find a new one. Relapse rates for addicts hover around 50 percent. One important way in which you can arm yourself against the near inevitability of relapse is to get a new fix. Replace your old, bad habit with a new, healthy one. Your new fix should make you feel good. It should have purpose and meaning. When you have a new fix, a new habit, you put yourself in a better position for maintaining sobriety.
The Power of Habit
We all have bad habits we wish we could change, but it’s hard. We know we should eat less junk food because it’s bad for our health. We know we should lose weight to prevent health risks. We know we shouldn’t drink or use drugs, but habits are tough to break. In spite of what we know we should and shouldn’t do, it is very difficult to change. This is one of the reasons addiction is so powerful. We know we should stop, we know we should avoid relapsing, but we can’t. Habits are the result of repetition and routine, but also of the triggering of the brain’s reward center. When you take a drug to get high, that pleasurable feeling in your brain leads you to want to take it again. This leads to repetition, and before you know it you have a habit. But habits can also be positive. If you can make a habit out of something that is good for you, you will be better able to avoid relapsing.
Find a Good Fix
The trick to finding a fix that works for you and will prevent you from relapsing is to try different things. Come up with a list of hobbies, activities and habits that would be good for you and that sound interesting. Then give each one a try. If it makes you feel good to do it, it’s good for you, you have time to do it properly and it is purposeful, you have found your new fix. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Working out is a great healthy habit. It’s good for you and it will actually trigger that reward system in your brain. Making exercise part of your routine will have several positive benefits. In fact, research has shown that lab animals that exercise are less inclined to self-administer drugs. It’s a natural high, so who needs drugs?
- Healthy cooking. Always wanted to be a better cook? Take classes and learn how to cook and how to eat well. It will make you feel better and will give you a new purpose, especially if you share your cooking with others.
- Mindfulness meditation is all the rage these days, and with good reason. Meditation is relaxing. It relieves stress. It lowers blood pressure. It just makes you feel better and calmer.
- Volunteer work. Helping others is another great habit to take up and will add meaning and purpose to your life. Choose to do something you are passionate about and you will get more out of it and be more likely to stick with it.
Whatever you choose to be your new, sober fix, enjoy it. If it isn’t making you happy, try something else. Eventually you’ll find your fix, and the result will be a meaningful life in recovery with no place for drugs, alcohol or other bad habits.