Most individuals have developed their own personalized coping mechanisms to deal with stressful situations. Some people count to ten, and others take a few deep breaths. Individuals who have fallen prey to drug or alcohol addiction often rely on their substance of choice to get them through a stressful time or to cope with or escape from a difficult problem. In order for drug addicts and alcoholics to recover from their addiction diseases and to achieve true sobriety, they will need new alternatives to help them cope with big problems that threaten to throw them off the recovery track, with the lesser bumps and grinds of daily life, and with everything else in between.
Alternative Coping Strategies
Addiction counselors often recommend physical exercise as an ideal coping alternative to drugs and alcohol. Exercise releases endorphins that can elevate a person’s mood. It can distract a person from psychological cravings for drugs or alcohol. Exercise can alleviate anger or frustration, and it can shift a person’s focus from himself and to his outer world. On a broader level, therapists frequently use distraction techniques to shift a recovering addict’s focus away from drugs and alcohol. Exercise is the ultimate distraction that provides benefits that go above and beyond merely shifting a recovering addict’s focus.
Counselors also encourage recovering addicts to keep a journal to record their thoughts, including their cravings and the circumstances that give rise to those cravings. A recovering addict will often not recognize the triggers that cause cravings. As he records his thoughts and observations, the triggers and patterns of events which for the triggers will become more obvious, allowing a recovering addict to reformulate his circumstances to avoid those patterns of events. More generally, changing environments and terminating relationships that enabled addictions will reduce the need for a recovering addict to resort to a coping mechanism.
Because addicts are so enured to stimulus-response mechanisms, a recovering addict can cope with a stressful situation by creating rewards for himself when he gets beyond the situation. The reward might be a short vacation or new wardrobe items, or anything else that a recovering addict can use as a target to approach by getting past a trigger that would have previously led him to drugs or alcohol.
Recovery from Drugs and Alcohol
As alcoholics and drug addicts progress further into their recoveries, they may begin to develop a renewed sense of gratitude and a desire to reach beyond themselves to help others. Alcoholics and addicts who are able to move into this phase of recovery have the best opportunity to develop alternative coping mechanisms. When stressed, instead of looking for something that will allow them to cope internally, they will use their own sense of gratitude for getting past their addiction and their desire to help other people as tools to block all cravings for drugs and alcohol. The most successful recovering addicts are those who gain an appreciation that they are not solo travelers on their recovery paths. Understanding that you are part of something greater can be the best and most effective alternative coping mechanism.
The Last Resort Recovery Center near Austin, Texas, can help you find and develop your own alternative coping mechanisms to drugs and alcohol. Please call us at 512-360-3600 for a confidential consultation and assistance in overcoming your drug or alcohol problem.