Among our primary values at Kemah Palms Recovery is a commitment to assisting clients in replacing unhealthy habits with positive ones. If you’re investigating Houston substance abuse treatment programs, you know what it’s like to have a habit you want to get rid of. You know that the claim “I can quit whenever I want” fails the FTTP (From Theory To Practice) test. You know how agonizing it can be to contemplate which would be more unbearable–life with a substance habit or life without it.
6 Things You Must Know About Replacing Unhealthy Habits
1. The best, often the only, way to break a habit is to replace it with a new one.
Nature really does abhor a vacuum, and no habit exists in one. Invariably, a habit is taken up to fill some perceived need, and resorted to at specific times or in specific situations. The trouble with the typical “cold turkey” approach (aside from physical dangers, and assuming one sticks it out until the worst cravings pass) is that it tries to put a vacuum in the place of a pleasure or coping strategy: it focuses on reducing the old approach without giving much thought to what will take its place. Unless something new is deliberately put there, what fills that place, as soon as the old trigger pops up, will be the old, comfortably familiar, unhealthy habit.
2. The primary motivation for replacing unhealthy habits is believing that the benefits will outweigh the losses.
It’s entirely possible to be miserable with a habit and yet cringe at the thought of life without it. If you know no pleasure like that “buzz,” or if a few drinks relax you and make it easy to talk to others, health risks and hangovers can seem a small price to pay when the only alternative seems to be a life of boredom at best, a disaster at worst. However, when the alternative is seen as a life of brimming energy, accomplishment, and good friends, the effort of giving up the old habit looks a lot more worth it.
3. A clear picture of the desired results is key to achieving any goal.
To be motivated by the benefits of sober living, one has to see them as real and achievable. Why exactly do you want to stop using? If it’s interfering with your work, set some specific and measurable professional goals, and commit to doing something specific toward them each day. Ditto for fitness goals if what you like least about the old habit is how sick it makes you feel, or for relationship goals if the old habit is driving away your friends. To further reinforce the goals that are built on better habits, write them down–and/or make a visual image–in sufficient detail that you can almost feel those desired results now.
4. Every habit is physical.
Neurophysical, that is. Science tells us that regularly thinking the same thoughts will literally wear electrochemical paths in our brains, and future thoughts will find those paths easiest to follow. So, when you determine to stop thinking “I can’t cope without a drink” and start thinking “I have a better way to cope,” you aren’t imagining it if you experience actual physical discomfort that goes beyond withdrawal symptoms. People whose habit problems center on social media or poor etiquette have their own agony sensations when making changes; think of it as muscle strain from struggling to force habit-feeding thoughts down unpaved “brain roads.” The good news is that, after a few weeks of regular use, the new road smooths out and the discomfort disappears.
5. Relapse is a matter of “not if but when.”
There are exceptions, of course, but anywhere from three out of four to nine out of ten substance abusers (exact numbers vary by type of substance) will fall off the wagon at least once after getting well on the way to “quitting.” After all, we’re talking about something that was a major part of life, had its good moments, and conditioned brain and body to accept it as normal. The important thing is to avoid the temptation to decide “I blew it, I knew I couldn’t do this, I might as well go the whole way and stretch that one beer into six.” See your relapse not as a collapse but as a stumble; it may take some effort to recover yourself, but you’re still facing the same way along the same road.
6. Small victories are worth celebrating.
If you expect your first real accomplishment to be your first full year of sobriety, you’re going to have a miserable year. Going your first full day, week, and month without–or successfully resisting that major trigger for the first time ever–is no less an accomplishment to pat yourself on the back for. Give yourself credit where it’s due, and surround yourself with supportive friends who will cheer with you. The more you savor even the tiniest victories, the more motivated you’ll be to press on to the big ones.
7. Good habits are a lifetime commitment.
Sad but true: most habits we’d be better off without are easy to fall into, while good habits are W-O-R-K. Not just to initially adopt, either, but to maintain for the long run. Once you’ve fixed on that new, healthier habit, you’ll still have days that tempt you to neglect it for “just a little while.” Don’t; little whiles stretch into long ones all too easily. Be constant with the new habit even when it’s hard. Get friends to prod you on (you can return the favor at the same time). Stay grateful for the benefits of the new habit. Persistence is the secret of a wonderful life!
About Kemah Palms Recovery
At Kemah Palms Recovery, we strive to do more than just assist clients in replacing unhealthy habits. Our goal is to offer addiction treatment options in Houston that teach individuals how to live a fulfilling and productive life. Contact Kemah Palms Recovery today at 866.604.1873 to get started on your road to lasting change.