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Why We’re Still Tempted by Our Drug of Choice

Understanding why it’s hard to let go of our substance(s) of choice and the importance of addressing the underlying issues within the temptation.

Once we’re well into our recovery, it can be painful and confusing to find ourselves still being tempted by our drug of choice, even once we have achieved sobriety. We wonder why we’re still being inundated with temptation, addictive urges, and compulsions even after doing so much work around our addictive patterns. We don’t understand why we’re still feeling emotions we want to escape using our drug of choice when we’ve been doing so much work to heal ourselves mentally and emotionally. We’re frustrated, angry, and disappointed with ourselves for having thoughts about turning back and undoing the incredible progress we’ve made. We feel ashamed of ourselves. We’re horrified that we would even consider returning to our drug of choice after years of so much suffering and hardship. Perhaps more than anything, we’re terrified that we’ll relapse and fall back into our old painful and self-harming patterns.

We want to think that our sobriety will bring with it total detachment from our addictions. We want desperately to be fully healed. After putting in the work, we want to reap the rewards and experience freedom. What we learn over time is that temptation and fear are natural, normal and common parts of recovery. Our recovery journey is not just about achieving sobriety, it’s also about overcoming all of the challenges that arise over time. It’s about accepting and coming to terms with the difficult thoughts and emotions including panic, anger, frustration, sadness, and even temptation. In order to help ourselves stay sober for the long run, we want to figure out why we’re still tempted by our drug of choice. Why are we still being drawn to something that has hurt us so much? Why is recovery a lifelong journey rather than a quick fix? Why is achieving initial sobriety not enough for us to relax into our recovery and ease up on ourselves? Why do we have to keep putting in so much work?

One major reason why we’re still tempted by our drug of choice, even well into our recovery, is that subconsciously we still think we need it. We were so dependent upon it for so long, to ease our anxiety and to calm our nerves, to help ourselves cope with anger and sadness, to help ourselves quell our fears, that we came to believe we couldn’t function without it. It became our go-to remedy when we were dealing with difficult relationship dynamics and interpersonal conflicts. It was how we coped with the many difficult thoughts and emotions we suppressed and avoided. We came to think of our drugs of choice as problem-solvers. We weren’t sure we would even survive without them. If we’re still holding onto these beliefs, even subconsciously, they are continuing to impact us on a regular basis. Our subconscious mind stores our emotional information and governs the majority of what we think and believe, as well as most of what we feel, as well as our behaviors and choices. If we still believe subconsciously that we’re dependent upon our drug of choice, we will continue to be tempted by it, even if consciously we know we don’t need it.

Another reason we’re still tempted by our drug of choice has to do with our psychological dependence upon the substance. Long after we’ve stopped using the drug or drinking alcohol, we can continue to feel psychologically dependent. Some of us used our drug of choice to help ourselves wake up and start the day. Others of us used a drug to sustain our energy throughout the day and to cope with all of life’s many demands. We may have come to rely on our substance of choice to be able to slow down our thoughts so that we could sleep. We might have depended on it for pain management and relief. Even when we’re physically no longer dependent on it, even once we’ve broken the biochemical dependence we once had, we can still have innate mental, emotional, and physical ties to it. Our drug of choice and the way it made us feel can become ingrained within us, just like “muscle memory.” Just as our fingers remember how to play a song on the piano years after playing it, or our minds remember the words to a song we haven’t heard in ages, our entire systems can retain the information we developed around our addictions. We can feel instinctively drawn to our drug of choice, even if we have already let it go and aren’t physically dependent upon it any longer.

Another fundamental reason why we’re still tempted by our drug of choice is the internal self-destructive, self-sabotaging programming we might still experience. If deep down we believe we’re unworthy of healing and happiness, we’ll do everything in our power to keep them at bay. We will manifest our life circumstances, including our behaviors and decisions, from that energy of unworthiness and lack of self-love. We will be drawn to unhealthy relationships. We’ll feel tempted to relapse. We want to reprogram our subconscious minds using meditation, visualization, repetition of affirmations, and the written word, in order to finally believe we’re worthy of being free from our addictions. If we’re still telling ourselves we’re not strong enough to stay sober, if we’ve convinced ourselves we’re weak and vulnerable to relapse, we will unconsciously still be drawn to our drug of choice, and it will feel nearly impossible to let it go.

Being fully healed is absolutely possible for us, and the more we address the underlying issues fueling our temptations, the more we will be able to stay committed to our recovery.

The Guest House is a welcoming and supportive recovery home where you will be met with open arms, wherever where you are on your journey, without judgment or expectation. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.