Overcoming Behavioral Addictions in Recovery
June 6th, 2010 by Patrick

What is the key to overcoming behavioral addictions in recovery?  How can people develop a better life in which they are living healthy, which engaging in destructive behavioral addiction?

Perhaps the best way to avoid destructive behaviors is to first identify them and then develop a long term plan of recovery.  Obviously the first step is always going to be in raising awareness.  If you are not aware of a behavior pattern that you want to change then you are powerless to change it.  Likewise, if you do not recognize it when the behavior arises in your daily life, then you are also powerless to do anything about it.

 photo credit: Bruce W Martin II

So the first step is always going to be in raising your awareness of these behaviors.  And the only way to do that is to talk about them, think about them, write about them, and bring them to the forefront of your consciousness so that you can catch them when they are happening.

If you cannot even do this much then you need to take a step back and get some professional help.  I would suggest counseling or therapy so that another person can help you to learn how to recognize your behaviors when they occur.  You have to develop this awareness or you cannot make corrective changes.

Once you have learned how to identify your behavior addictions, then you need to start actively trying to change them.  I would suggest that you try to develop a zero tolerance policy for yourself if possible.  So for example, if your behavioral problem is gambling, then I would suggest: no gambling.  None whatsoever.  Now this becomes a problem when your addiction to something is a necessity in life, such as food addiction.  Then you need to become hyper aware of when you are eating for pleasure, and when you are eating to actually feed your body.  You can still have a zero tolerance policy with this, you just need to get honest with yourself so that you do not cheat and try to fool yourself at the same time.

Ultimately these behavioral problems stem from problems within your life that go beyond addiction.  You need to embrace recovery fully in order to get your life fixed in such a way that your behavior no longer is a seductive threat to you.  You can achieve this sort of life in recovery through hard work and holistic growth.

Basically, you need to embrace the idea of holistic, personal growth.  This means that you need to work on improving your life in every way as you grow in recovery.  You may work on physical fitness, for example, and feel better about yourself for doing daily exercise.  Or you may work on emotional balance, and feel better because your emotions are smooth and on an even keel throughout the day.  You may work on your relationships in your life, and feel better as you eliminate negative and toxic people from your life, and strengthen the bonds with those who are a positive influence.  And you may work on your spirituality, and strengthen your relationship with a higher power.  And so on.

This holistic approach is particularly powerful because it addresses every area that an addiction negatively affected.  Whatever damage your behavior was doing to your life can be restored with this sort of holistic approach.  And you can feel confident in your recovery that you are living a positive life now, because you will constantly be seeking new growth experiences.  This is actually the best form of relapse prevention, because you will not be tempted to go back to your old ways if your life is exciting, happy, and challenging with new growth experiences.

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