If you or a loved one is going through treatment for substance addiction, one important life skill to learn is self-control or self-discipline. Addiction can spin your life out of control. Self-control—or the lack thereof—is not a character trait, but a skill that can be relearned and honed. There are many practical techniques to help you regain a sense of self-control. The more skilled you become at self-control, the higher your chance is of achieving long-term recovery.
Self-Control Begins With Self-Awareness
Because substance addiction can change the chemical structures of the brain, it is futile to ask someone using substances to just quit. It is not something that will be successful on your own. If you have made the brave and life-changing decision to get help ending your addiction and put in the hard work of detox, the next step is to get into the habit of good self-control. Cravings will come, but if you can push through the urge to use or drink again, those cravings will eventually disappear.
Short-term tactics such as repeating mantras or distracting yourself by engaging in other fun activities are self-control practices. Once you succeed, you will feel a rising sense of pride in yourself. Feeling good about being in control of the situation can reinforce your determination to stay sober. Your willpower will slowly come back and get stronger. Track your actions and figure out ways to maintain and improve self-control for managing urges and cravings.
Other Aspects of Self-Control in Recovery
The principle of self-control can be integrated into various aspects of recovery from substance addiction. Understand that, though you have gained a lot of self-control, don’t put yourself in a place of temptation when you return home from inpatient treatment. Being aware of what triggers your urges and cravings is a self-control skill. Remove any signs of your past addiction from your home to avoid a battle with yourself.
Self-control means sticking with things that keep your recovery momentum, like a healthy diet, exercise routines, and relaxation techniques. The body and mind need to de-stress and stay healthy to recover. Recovery covers all areas of your life, so find self-control in eating right and sticking to the activities, practices, and support groups that help you stay sober.
Your actions are often driven by beliefs, ideas, and thoughts. Self-control means having an awareness of how negative thoughts and emotions, without intervention, can accumulate to induce harmful actions. When you don’t let negative or impulsive thoughts live rent-free in your mind, you can prevent actions that could put your sobriety in danger.
Self-control also plays a part in how you manage time. People recovering from addiction may have a lot of time on their hands, now that time isn’t filled with obtaining or using substances. Boredom can be detrimental to your progress. You can manage your time well by planning activities and filling time in your week so that you avoid boredom. Manage your time at work so that you can complete all your tasks in a timely manner and avoid overworking which can cause stress and lead to cravings for substances.
From Self-Control to Self-Discipline
Nothing can guarantee long-term sobriety and recovery for you, but if you can achieve self-discipline, success is within reach. Self-discipline is integrating the principle of self-control in every area of your life with consistency. Admittedly, self-discipline can be a challenging quality to achieve, even when substance addiction is not part of the picture. It is the ultimate display of willpower.
Like improving self-control, self-discipline takes practice and patience. Take this daily choice for example: when you choose healthy foods and keep your blood sugar level normal, it becomes easy to avoid making bad choices such as fulfilling temporary cravings, lashing out with anger, or losing patience. Self-discipline is based on the understanding of how your body and mind are intricately connected and catering your choices to make that connection a healthy one.
Don’t equate self-discipline with perfectionism. Lacking self-forgiveness, perfectionism creates stress and inhibits true progress. Self-discipline allows you to make mistakes but pushes you toward achieving the right goals, including honesty, humility, and true forgiveness. If the immune system safeguards the body against physical threats, self-control and self-discipline are the mind’s immune system against the abstract threats of complacency and old habits.
Researchers find that self-control has three different levels, including carrying out certain intentions in the short-term, achieving long-term goals, and living life according to your values and self-understanding. The last dimension points to a fundamental aspect of recovery, which is reconnecting with yourself while grounded on certain positive values.
If you or a loved one is going through treatment for substance addiction, self-control is an important life skill to learn. There are many practical techniques to help you or your loved one regain a sense of self-control to make recovery smoother and more long-lasting. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our team of licensed mental healthcare professionals and therapists can educate and counsel you through all areas of recovery, including self-control. Many of our staff have been in recovery themselves, so we understand the challenges you face on this long journey. As believers in a holistic approach to sustainable recovery, we coach clients to rebuild a balanced lifestyle through custom treatment plans catered specifically to their needs. Our full medical residential facility offers a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, and 12-step programs. With our help and support, you can reclaim control over your life. Call Laguna Shores Recovery at (866) 906-3203.