What now?: Changing our relationship with substances
Admitting that you are struggling with the control of your substance of choice demonstrates your courage through vulnerability towards change. Admission is a critical step of understanding where we are now along with how we got here so that we can guide our intention and action towards where we want to be. This article is here to provide a framework in getting started on your growth and recovery.
To begin we need to grow our awareness of exactly where we sit in the present. Where you are in the present will serve as an orientation point in developing your understanding of how this relates to the past (How we got here) and to the future (Where you want to go). The following questions will help you grow your understanding of the present. I encourage you to write down your answers so that you can build on them if more ideas come to you.
What was the feeling or experience that I had that makes me want to change?
What resources do I have currently?
How much time can I devote to changing in my current routine?
Am I willing to use financial resources to change?
Am I able to shift my schedule to meet new priorities?
Can I stay in my current relationship, friend group, family, or job and change?
How will people receive me wanting to change?
How much am I willing to sacrifice to change right now?
With our understanding of where we sit currently it's time to begin with thinking about the behavioral patterns that brought us here. Thinking and feeling out our relationship with substances can be distressing with feelings of guilt and blame being common. As you write, I encourage you to hold a non judgemental demeanor towards yourself and others to look at what has happened from a healthy distance.
When did I first realize for myself that my use is becoming a problem?
When did I start receiving communication or consequences from my use?
Has my use increased, decreased, or stayed the same over time?
How has stress impacted my use? Did I start using to avoid? To control my feelings?
With work towards orienting ourselves in the present and past, we can now focus on where we would like to be in the future. Longstanding change requires a long period of work and discomfort including ups, downs, and setbacks. Build your staircase through practical goals.
If I could snap my fingers and change my relationship with substances, what would I want it to be?
What are reasonable steps that will place me closer towards this goal?
What will happen to my life if I achieve positive change in my life?
Where and who will I be if I decide to not change?
Can I change on my own or do I need help? What can I do right now to change?
If this article resonates with you feel free to reach out for consultation.