Taking Gradual Recovery Steps For Every Addiction
According to Medical-Dictionary.com, addiction is a persistent, compulsive dependence on a behavior or substance. Addiction symptoms have been extended, however, to include mood-altering behaviors or activities. Some researchers speak of two types of addictions: substance addictions (for example, alcoholism, drug abuse, and smoking); and process addictions (for example, gambling, spending, shopping, eating, and sexual activity).
Despite the fact that there are clearly many types of addictions, there are still certain parallels among all addictions. One of these is that the road to recovery is not an event, but a process. This process is typically lifelong; Slips and relapses along the way are common, and these days are even regarded as a part of the overall recovery process.
So what are the steps that addicts can take towards their own recovery, regardless of the addiction?
Every addict tends to be obsessed and hyper-focused in fulfilling their compulsive needs. Addicts are notorious for ignoring even their most basic needs, causing general health to weaken due to poor diet, lack of exercise and sleep.
An addict can take a big step on the road back to health by establishing routines and in this, it's appropriate to start small. Some suggestions include:
Sleep – All addicts are known to burn the candle at both ends. Encourage your loved one to set the alarm in the morning and if necessary, wake them yourself. When it's bedtime, don't let them fall asleep in front of the television, or pull out their iPads. Encourage them to get into bed, turn off the lights, close their eyes and go to sleep. You may have to push hard, but good sleep hygiene is critical for recovery.
Diet – Unless a person has a food addiction, addicts in general tend to ignore hunger pangs and are often ambivalent about food and proper diet. This can lead to poor health, general weakness and malaise. You might have to do the cooking, but always have a plan for the day that includes 2-3 healthy meals. If necessary, prepare meals in advance and freeze them, leaving re-heating instructions for the addict. Make sure there is always a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter and chopped vegetables in a bowl in the refrigerator.
Exercise – You can't make anyone – let alone an addict – exercise! However, you can encourage them by asking them to join you for a walk, or to help you plant tomatoes, or stack firewood. Try to think of activities that help the addict get out of his or her head and instead of instructing, or ordering them to participate, include the family in these activities. Newton's first law of motion states that "An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion...” In other words, once you get started, it's easier to keep moving!
One of the hallmarks of addiction is when an addict ignores their general health and well-being. Change is always hard and you can't force healthy habits onto a loved one caught in the vicious grip of addiction. However, you can facilitate change and be the catalyst. It's best to start small, and remember, small victories add up. Good habits will reinforce themselves when the addict starts to feel stronger and healthier. Establishing these habits will serve your loved one well throughout the recovery process and for the rest of their life.