How to Cope With Addiction: Learning Coping Skills
Learning coping skills and behaviors can help someone more effectively understand how to cope with addiction.
One important element of addiction recovery treatment is learning the skill of how to cope with addiction, which are most often taught through behavioral therapies. The recovering addict will learn how to identify the situations, people or places that most likely tempt him to use drugs or alcohol, and then to avoid them. He or she will also learn to use specific thoughts and behavior that will be most effective when confronted with stressful types of situations.
Cognitive behavior therapy outlines specific goals to effectively treat addiction recovery, including:
- Management of painful feelings
- Motivation for abstinence
- Coping skills
- Social support
- Improve personal functioning
- Reinforcement contingencies
To be able to cope with addiction, it is imperative that a recovering addict learns how to think and behave effectively. If he doesn’t do this, he will continue in his destructive behavior, which includes substance abuse. Negative thoughts and destructive behavior patterns from the past must be replaced with positive thoughts and behavior. Periods of strong emotions and stress must also be dealt with in a constructive way. Addicts are usually vulnerable during certain times of the day and this may cause them to relapse. Recovering addicts should become aware of these times and address them before there are repercussions. HALT is the acronym to remember for these specific times: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired.
Addicts should learn to assess their feelings during the day, such as: feeling lonely, tired, sad, angry, or hungry. They should eat regular, nutritious meals that will keep him satisfied until the next meal. Getting enough rest, relaxation and sleep is also very important to feel bright, chipper, attentive and less vulnerable. Spending quality time with family and friends will nourish the mind and spirit, and remove any feelings of loneliness. Attending support group meetings is another way for the addict to interact with others who are going through the same things he is. Peers usually share ideas and also build a rapport with each other. Individual counseling is another important aspect of recovery because it gives the individual a forum to discuss his concerns and problems and try to find resolutions.
A recovering addict should try to avoid any people or places where he drank or did drugs. He should also avoid any paraphernalia associated with drinking and drugs. These things act as triggers and may temp him to relapse. He should make a list of “high-risk” situations, keep the list handy and avoid these situations as best he can. These situations produce strong temptations because they trigger the memories of when the person abused drugs or alcohol, and create feelings of wanting to repeat that behavior. Total avoidance is one of the best coping skills to deal with triggers of addiction.
Lying is a big part of addiction behavior, and a person in recovery must learn to be honest with themselves and others. If he doesn’t change this behavior pattern he will not be able to make an effective recovery. He must be truthful with his family, friends, support group members, counselors and therapists, and not try to cover-up any destructive behavior. Because lying was such a big part of the addict’s life, being honest won’t come easily. He may still be tempted to lie to protect himself, as he did before. But if he makes an effort to change, which he must, then he will begin to learn how to tell the truth.
The recovering addict should focus on his recovery and put the coping skills that he has learned into practice. He has to learn how to change his thinking, behavior and life in order to create a new one. If he doesn’t do this, he may repeat his mistakes from the past and relapse. This is why change is so very important to a person in recovery, and learning how to cope with addiction and the proper addiction recovery steps will help him get through the difficult times.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the White Sands Treatment Center at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.