Looking back, it’s safe to say I’m a creature of habit. My life has been defined by habits—some of which were early warning signs of the addiction I would experience later in life. Even as a kid, I was compulsive about the way I would read books and video games—things that seemed harmless at the time. As I got older, I habitually overate, which was less harmless. Growing up as a “fat kid” isn’t much fun. Luckily, I ended up losing the weight as I grew into my teens (because I happened to get into the habit of running and watching what I ate).
That’s when other habits started to appear. The first time I tried smoking weed, I knew I had found something special. It made me feel amazing—I wanted to feel that way all the time. So, I set about trying to do just that. It didn’t take long at all before I was a habitual smoker, and I picked up some other habits along the day. I was smoking weed daily, and on the weekends my partying and experimentation grew more extreme. I would drink heavily and use whatever drugs I could get my hands on. My healthy habits like eating well and taking care of myself were long gone.
I’m not sure when it happened, but my hard-partying and heavy drug using habits eventually turned into a full-blown drug addiction. Surprise! Looking back, it’s extremely obvious what was happening, but believe it or not, at the time I honestly did not believe I had a problem. I believed I was dealing with some mental health issues and going through some rough times. That’s the delusion of addiction for ya.
If you’ve read my other blogs, you know what I went through to get sober. It was a long and bumpy road filled with setbacks and relapses, but eventually I managed to put together some serious clean time. I ran into several habits that both helped and hurt me along the way.
It was easy to develop bad habits coming fresh out of an addiction. I found myself working out all the time and restricting my diet heavily in order to try and lose weight quickly. It didn’t work (once again demonstrating that looking for a short-term solution is never the answer). I also picked up regular smoking, which was another difficult one to quit (but I did manage to stop eventually). I found myself dating compulsively and in a codependent relationship. That one was the closest to making me relapse, but I managed to avoid it.
On the other hand, good habits are what I credit to achieving successful long-term recovery. My earlier obsession with losing weight didn’t work out, but I did eventually get in shape. Along the way I developed habits of eating well and exercising regularly, which have served me well for years. More importantly, I developed good habits around my sobriety. I got in the habit of going to regular meetings and being part of the community. When I felt like I was at risk, I went to a meeting or called someone instead of picking up. Once these practices became habit, I didn’t have to think about them anymore—I just did them. And things started to change.