“Hi, I’m Connie and I truly am a grateful, recovering addict.” When I first attended 12-Step meetings and heard people saying they were “grateful recovering” addicts, I thought to myself, “Why in the world are they grateful for being an addict?” Twenty-nine years into my own recovery, I can tell you why people who are in a full program of recovery from addiction are grateful. When a person is active in an addiction, it is like being in a prison, shackled by an unwanted behavior or substance. Addiction happens when a person wants to stop something that is causing problems in their life, but they can’t do it – at least not for very long.
Food, alcohol, pills, internet pornography, shopping, gambling, online gaming—just about anything can become addictive. Some of it is likely biological, some of it environmental, but all addiction gets to a point where it is miserable.
You know you can’t go on with your addiction causing so many problems in your life—interfering with your health, relationships, finances, and more. But you don’t know how to live without the food or the gambling or the shopping or the alcohol…
What DO you do when you have come to realize you have an addiction but don’t know where to turn? I’ll tell you, but if you want the help, YOU have to do the work! No matter what you are addicted to, in order to break free from the chains of addiction, you need to take the following steps:
You can’t recover from addiction by yourself. Even if you stop engaging in whatever your addictive substance or behavior is, you need the help of a professional and others who understand your struggle. You can get help from professionals or support groups for others suffering from addiction. Or you can get both professional and peer help.
You need encouragement from people who love you. Giving up an addictive substance or behavior can be extremely difficult. Let people who love you know what you are doing. Let them know specifically how they can help you. And reach out to them for help when you are struggling.
The road to remaining abstinent is often a difficult one. Don’t expect yourself to find the journey one of smooth sailing. Be patient as you go through the frustrations, fears, irritations and pain of giving up an addictive behavior.
You make the choice to abstain from your unhealthy behavior or substance just for the moment, not for tomorrow or for the rest of your life. Stay in the day. Stay present in the moment.
Celebrate the moments when you successfully maintain your resolve to live in recovery. Be grateful for the help and support that is available to you. And USE it.
Every time you talk back to your addiction and choose to move forward in recovery, you develop gratitude for your hard work, for the people in your life who help you, and for the self-esteem you gain. Most importantly, as you leave your addictive lifestyle behind you, you begin to live healthy and live fully. There’s so much to be grateful for as a recovering addict. Find out for yourself!