Getting clean or sober is an incredibly brave first step towards finding yourself and building a new life in God’s light. But, detox and rehab are not the end-all of addiction. You will still be tempted at times. You may find yourself craving drugs and alcohol. You may find yourself romanticizing being drunk and high and forgetting about the evil of those things and why you left them. These temptations are mostly mental, biological cravings go away after a few months. Psychologically, your brain can tell you that you need more drugs and alcohol for decades after you touch it the last time. People experience strong cravings for years following quitting. While resisting these temptations can be incredibly difficult, you’ve already overcome addiction once, you can continue to do so.
Here are some things to say to yourself when you want to drink or use to help you to stay on track.
Did you know that people tend to withdraw and isolate themselves before they relapse? People relapse because of good and bad things, when things work out and they want to celebrate, when life is stressful, when life suddenly changes. Most of us recognize the trigger to relapse and withdraw away from friends and family, stop going to church, and essentially remove ourselves from social obligations before drinking or using. While this is a long process, it’s usually done unconsciously and you look up and find yourself “alone”. The thing is, you’re never alone. God is here with you. He trusts in you to do the right thing, to resist temptation, and to turn to Him when you need him most.
Experiencing a craving can feel like it will last forever. It’s like an itch and you have to scratch it to be okay. It builds up. Most people give in almost right away. Which is a shame, because most cravings don’t last very long. God has put temptations on earth for you, but they aren’t anything you can’t handle. With most cravings lasting for no more than half an hour, resisting them is just a matter of holding out long enough.
Here, it’s important that you change your focus, find something to distract yourself, and focus on that instead of how much you want to drink or use. Remember, cravings are like an itch. The more you think about them, the worse they get and the longer they last. You can try talking to people, doing something with your hands, and engaging with something else. If you’re at work, try counting a rosary or using another focus piece like a crucifix, try taking time to talk to coworkers, or take a break and call someone you care about. Chances are, you can also call your pastor, your sponsor from 12-step, or a family member who is there to help.
Doing something with your hands works, especially if you have to focus on that thing. Going to the gym, cleaning something, lifting boxes, mowing the grass, or practicing a ritual of meditation with your rosary or a crucifix can be incredibly helpful.
Your church, your friends, your family, your support groups. All of these people trust and are counting on you to stay clean and sober. Chances are, you have people at group who look up to you and who respect how far you’ve come. Your family are expecting you to stay accountable so that you can be there for them. And everyone you know and love expects you to take care of yourself so that you can continue to be part of their lives.
No matter what is going on in your life, God is always here for you. You can always stop and talk to Him to share your feelings, cravings, wants, and needs. He won’t always answer, but he always listens. And, He will provide in one way or another. Take your feelings to your congregation, to the people you trust, and share them. You will find ways to move past whatever life has thrown at you, even if God doesn’t make it directly obvious, He’s responsible. He is there to help you, with Rehab, with making it through cravings, and with rebuilding your life.
Every step you’ve taken away from addiction has been a personal victory. Whether you’ve done it with the help of God, with your friends and family, or dedicated professional help, every step has been an uphill battle. You can be proud of getting clean and sober. Quitting and putting down temptation is not easy. But, if you give in now, you are giving that up. You will have to go to treatment again, and you will relapse. It’s never just one drink or one hit.
Remind yourself of how far you’ve come, what you’d be giving up, and what you are working for.
If you quit, you are taking steps to be the person you want to be. You are setting yourself up for success. You are allowing yourself to participate in the Kingdom of God, to have a family, to give and receive from your community. If you relapse, you give all of that up. You give up on the life you are building for yourself now and the one you are building for yourself in Heaven.
Remind yourself of all of the things you are working towards, of all the things you have achieved. No matter what you want in life, staying clean and sober is the way to get there. If you need additional help, consider talking to your pastor, to a therapist, or to your support group about how substance abuse gets in the way of your life and your goals.
Facing temptation and moving past it is a powerful thing. It shows you who you are, who you have become, and where you can be. At the same time, it is work, it is exhausting, and it will wear you down.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
Make sure that you take time to recover, that you surround yourself with supporting people, and that you take advantage of the tools God has given you to resist temptation. But when you do face cravings, remember He would never give you something that you cannot bear.
Getting clean and sober is an active work of contribution towards your future and that of your family. Every step you take away from substance abuse and towards God is a step towards everlasting life in HIs name. And it’s a step towards happiness here on earth, with friends, family, church, and peers who support and care about you. You are building that for yourself. If you give up now, it sets you back to square one and you will have to rebuild all of what you want for yourself.
You are strong enough to resist temptation. You’ve made it this far. Recovering from a substance use disorder is not easy but God is here to help. When you do falter, remember to talk to people, talk to God, and ask for help. You don’t have to do this alone.
If you or a loved one is currently struggling with alcohol or drugs, it might be time to check out a Christian Substance Abuse Rehab Program. Speak with one of our experienced treatment advisors today at (844) 577-1234 for a free assessment.