Dr. Cali Estes - The Addictions Academy ®

One Addiction for Another: Replacing Bad Habits with “Good” Habits?


One Addiction for Another

Replacing Bad Habits with “Good” Habits?

9/28/2020 by Chris Cobb



I’ve had plenty of addictions. Drugs, alcohol, food, and so on. I also have over 2 years at this point without any drugs or alcohol in my life. I’ve heard the phrase quite often: “You must replace bad habits with good ones.”. I have done so in one way or another, for the most part. Like quitting smoking, and joining the gym to become even healthier with exercise than quitting smoking alone would do for me. I’ve also gone out to eat far too often instead of being on an all beer diet. Some habit replacements can be healthy, others, not so much. So let’s talk about some NEW bad habits we might grab while in recovery, and some better habits to replace them with.


Bad Habit #1: Stress, losing sleep over new responsibilities:

New job? New girlfriend? New Car? Nice. Welcome to your new sober life. Where you don’t lose jobs over drunken mishaps, or get arrested for the like. But we still have to be careful. How much have you changed in your life, and how fast? This is the first question to ask yourself. The next one is: Am I pacing myself? Is your new job or job(s) overwhelming, is the new girlfriend or boyfriend requiring more attention than you can give, causing issues in the relationship? Are you struggling to stay above water on your car payment? These are all stressful things, if you’re like me anyway. I tend to get far too stressed when dealing with life on life’s terms, especially when I present new “adulting” skills into my everyday life. So long story short, I have a lot on my plate. Maybe not more than I did when I was drinking, per-say. But back then, what I had in front of me was petty compared to now. It was stress and pain I had caused myself and others, that I could simply drown out with alcohol. Now I can’t do that. I won’t. Say some of the things we have begun to do now are actually necessary even. Exercise, healthy eating, routines, calendars, meetings, etc… Even good things can overwhelm us, quite easily, and quite often. So what’s just one thing we can do to help with all this new “good” stress? I personally believe that meditation is one thing that has truly helped me keep my serenity over the last couple of years. When I am stressed and exhausted, mentally, physically, and spiritually, I begin to feel like I’m in a small room with the walls closing in. I feel like hiding, like curling up and giving up. Meditation has allowed me to focus on myself, my body, sometimes trying to think of nothing at all; not fighting the thoughts that come to mind, but focusing on them for just a few seconds and allowing them to drift away, knowing that there is a solution to every problem. There are many forms of meditation. Music, guided meditation, driving, or just pure relaxation. There are typically one or more meditation groups of different types locally, and even if not, you can find pretty much any instructional, or voice guide online. So try it out sometime, see what it can do for you. There’s no harm that could come from it. Let’s read on.



Bad Habit #2: Spending too much money:

            Let’s take stress out of the equation for a moment. Say you have a spending habit that tends to break your bank and forces you to live paycheck to paycheck, but you’re not really too worried over it.. Sometimes, we begin not to care about much when we are grateful simply for making it past our old life, our addiction. We’re in recovery and we’ve “got this no matter what.” Right? Well, what happens when you lose your job, and don’t have any money saved up, not even enough to make it by for the next week or two that it will take you to even get an interview for your next potential job? You bought that Playstation 5 that you didn’t really need, because you work too much to play games anyway. You threw a Stage 3 Turbo and 20s on your 97 Honda Accord right before it broke down, and now you can’t afford a new head gasket. This is where we need to be prepared. I like to use the Six Ps. Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. (5, 6, same diff). What I mean by this, is that if I don’t have some emergency money saved back, or I don’t work on the most important parts of my car before I shoot for luxury or convenience, I have potentially screwed my near future self if something goes awry. So what we need here is if we don’t already know how, to learn to keep a budget, even a budget sheet that shows our income, and our possible expenses, prioritized from most important to least. Minimizing: making what we NEED outweigh what we WANT. Again with the car. Did you need that Turbo, or did you need new brakes and rotors? I mean fast is fun until you can’t slow down when you need to. The point in this whole thing is to live within our means. If we don’t need it, don’t buy it. If we need it, plan it out and get it taken care of. Buy groceries instead of eating fast or fancy. You can literally feed yourself for 2 weeks at home for what it would cost to eat at a nice steakhouse for one night. Most importantly, PAY ATTENTION to your bank account! Sometimes, I even keep cash in my wallet, or in a lockbox instead of putting it in the bank. I tend to forget I have the cash, or look at my bank account being less than what I actually have, and consider myself close to broke sooner than reality. This helps me really evaluate what I’m about to purchase online and figure out if I should really buy it or not. Let’s move on to the next bad habit, and its possible solution.



Bad Habit #3: Isolation Station – Wasting Time Doing Nothing:

            Ok, so scenario C. You’re not really too stressed, you are doing okay at your part time job living in housing or a recovery home. In your ample amount of free time, you sleep, play video games, watch TV. You start to do these relaxing things so often that you become acclimated to them, as if they are becoming second nature to you. Fast forward a couple of months. You still only have 20 hours of work each week, you get food stamps, and live a nice relaxing lifestyle overall. But where does this leave your recovery? You’re living the same way you lived when you were drinking and getting high, but now it’s easier to get bored or depressed, and the only thing you’re doing to keep your mind occupied is staying in a room by yourself playing the Crash Bandicoot remake, eating cheetos naked in a beanbag chair. What happened to upping your goals once you decided to CHANGE YOUR LIFE? We are now at  a dangerously vulnerable point in our life, whether we know it or not. We aren’t socializing. We’ve cut out the toxic people from our life, but what about the new people? Are we going to meetings? Are we talking to anyone, a sponsor? Even a counselor? It’s time to get up and get out. Establish healthy environments, and only allow healthy, positive people in your circle. Get a sponsor, someone you can confide in, someone you can trust completely to listen to exactly what is on your mind. It’s vitally important to voice what your spirit is going through. Overall, we need to get out of our comfort zone in order to truly start a new life for ourselves. The more inspiration, motivation, and determination we will gain from this will easily allow us to think outside of what used to be our limits, realize that the only limit is our own imagination, and leave that part time job behind for something bigger and better that will allow us to level up to those 20s and Turbos on our new modern set of wheels, without breaking us.


So just food for thought. Evaluate your surroundings, your work, your home, your life in general, and decide overall if you are happy, or if there is something you can do to add even more value to your life, besides just taking out the drugs and booze from your routine. Quit drinking, quit getting high, but NEVER quit BUILDING YOUR WORLD. 

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