What I did and how I did it...
When I went into recovery I knew I would have to get proactive and that if I truly desired change to occur I would need to get busy. In order for us to bring about any form of positive change in our lives, it is important for us to become proactive. I called this attacking my problem.
Dealing with Triggers and cravings
When I talk about my addictions here I am referring to alcohol in regards to this particular journey however throughout my life I struggled with solvent addiction, cocaine, pills, mdma, ket, lsd and whatever else I could get my hands on.
Alcohol was always consistent
Beginning with solvents and alcohol-fed to me by the man who raped me as a child toxins became my means to self medicate and escape during the period when I was being sexually abused and later in life numbing the pain from my various childhood traumas and this became my crutch for all negative experiences.
Alcohol is a drug, in fact, it is classed as a depressant, decreasing our alertness by slowing down the activity of the central nervous system. Our heart rate and breathing slow down reducing concentration and coordination.
So yes alcohol is a drug.
When I made the decision enough is enough I knew that I had to learn to combat my triggers and cravings if I was going to be able to progress this time around and succeed.
Many people ask me what I did in those early days and I urge them to check out my videos which go back to day one.
I thought I would write a post today to share with you my strategy for dealing with triggers.
I knew I had to get proactive and face things head-on so I began to first make a list of situations that would deem as a high risk for myself in regards to relapsing.
I identified my triggers as best I could through self-observation and I began to make lists looking into feelings, thoughts, people and places.
What feelings tended to trigger my desire for alcohol? Here I listed both good and bad things such as a stressful day at work, having the next day off of work, a reason for celebration or having a low day and feeling anxious or depressed etc.
The thoughts that would rampage through my mind like a steam train at times that would say stuff like have a drink matt you deserve it, I'll give up tomorrow if I don't have a drink how will I sleep, Everyone expects me to drink so I might as well or it'll be boring without alcohol etc
The people I encounter who increase my want for alcohol like being around colleagues and all they talk about is going to the pub, after talking on the phone or visiting certain family members I desire a drink, feeling nagged or like someone else is trying to control my drinking etc
Under places I also thought about events and special days such as Christmas and birthdays, watching a movie, going out for a meal or having a family barbeque etc
By writing my list I was becoming productive but I was also making myself aware of the many situations and circumstances that do trigger my desire for a drink and there is many.
List in hand I began to focus on how I can combat these situations I knew that the list would be pointless if when a trigger occurred I was unaware and allowed myself to go on autopilot so I decided that when a trigger occurred I would bring my attention to it.
Using the Mindfulness technique of S.T.O.P.
STOP In my tracks as soon as I feel a craving
TAKE A BREATHE this momentary pause allowed me to go from the autopilot in my mind to the here and now giving me back control.
OBSERVE MYSELF during this pause I would look at the craving and think of what my body actually needs and not what my mind thinks it needs i.e. alcohol. In doing so I would often notice I hadn't eaten, ok Matt get some grub this would take the edge off, I was stressed, ok Matt get some fresh air, I was bored lacking stimuli, Ok Matt do something productive this feeling will pass!
PROCEED I would then proceed with what was needed and often I had to grit my teeth and be disciplined but I did get through it!
This simple technique has gotten me out of some very close calls including the night my dad died please check out day 49 video on my journey and On day 50 the video called keep on keeping on.
With my list, I was now able to be prepared for my trigger times and so my recovery became the most important thing in my life as I planned and prepared for my trigger times by getting productive.
I knew a lack of stimuli in the evening would put me in the danger zone so I decided to learn about my problem of an evening.
I studied addiction and in doing so I learnt about how childhood trauma is a gateway into addiction for many.
Because of my job and lockdown, I knew I would not be able to go to group meetings or therapy so I kept a journal which was for all intense and purposes was my Facebook page.
I begun to talk about my past which was not easy however something within felt it was time I opened up and perhaps by doing so I can show that we are more than our pasts, more than our addictions.
Other things I did :
I started eating healthy proper meals and keeping myself hydrated as I learnt that alcohol strips the body of vital nutrients and when we go into recovery it is important that we replace these nutrients and build our bodies back up.
One thing I will say as well is before you consider detoxing please visit your GP and get yourself checked out. Your GP can also advise on your options for detoxing and what help and assistance are available to you in your area.
For greater insight into my journey, what I have done and my recovery please check out my videos that go back to my day one.
At the end of the day, however, the desire for change has to be one you truly want. There are times when recovery seems so hard and everything seems to be going against you. These are the moments when we feel alcohol will take the pain away...
But it won't
It will simply continue to dictate your future and cause you problems and you are worth so much more than that.
Be consistent, be proactive, do not be afraid to reach out for support and remember there is no fails, there are only opportunities to learn.