Overcoming Addiction: Rewards & Resources
There is an interesting relationship between addictive behavior and reward systems. Many people focus on addictions as a way to escape reality, rewarding themselves with false happiness like highs or drunken binges and gambling sprees that pull them way down over time.
However when these unhealthy rewards are replaced with healthier ones during recovery and healing, things can turn around. For example, saving a little money for a special trip can be rewarding. No need to gamble or get high; just enjoy swimming, shopping, skiing, and other fun activities instead.
But problems arise, like learning how much to save and where to go, how to get there, etc. And thus planning can be overwhelming and stressful.
To help addicts and those with tendencies toward addictive behaviors learn how to make and put a positive reward system into place, the first step is grabbing hold of reality and figuring out what WOULD be rewarding.
Reward yourself - with healthy rewards - along the way to success. That’s the goal!
1. Begin by keeping a notebook or journal listing rewards you would like to have. Start with something you think is totally unobtainable if you like. But start somewhere. And write down your thoughts so that you’ll be accountable and take responsibility for yourself and your actions and behaviors.
No one has to see this rewards notebook or journal but you. So feel free to use misspellings, bad grammar, doodles, magic markers, highlighters, clipped magazine pictures of what you want, etc. Be creative; make it colorful. It’s for YOU.
For example, your notebook could contain a list with some items like these that you think might be great: traveling, having lots of friends, being a part of a group, wearing designer clothes, having a new car, running your own business. Maybe you’d like to work part time, yet earn full time pay. Maybe you’d like to adopt children, join the Peace Corps, build your own boat or house. Dare to dream and live, jotting down ideas.
2. Then as time allows, research your ideas and find out what it would take to put them into action and make them reality. Do you need more money? More education? A scheduled time for a trip? A sewing machine to design clothes? Whatever it is that you’ll need, write it down.
Don’t know what you’ll need? Can’t figure out quite how to plan it all or get where you want? Use resources.
3. Seek help – ask trusted friends, write your congressman, check with your neighbor, move on to your net item and skip an unknown for now. Ask others at our 12-step meeting, research current trends in magazines and newspapers, ask the librarian for help and check via your favorite search engines. The goal is to reach out with your resources. No need to go it alone!
4. Then make it so, as they say on the television show Star Trek. Reach for the stars, your stars. Make time and plan your rewards one at a time. Have fun and enjoy life while you’re living it in a healthier, real way, with real friends and real vacations. Show off your one new suit of clothes that you worked for and saved for while paying all your other regular bills in the meantime.
5. Give back and help others plan their own rewards, too. That’s a reward in itself! Encourage your support team, your family, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors and your healthcare team. Helping each other in life can be very rewarding. Don’t miss out on non-monetary rewards!
Rewards and Resources
Here are some places to turn to for overcoming addiction with rewards and resources. Enjoy fellowship with others whoa re also looking for rewards to help motivate them through the recovery and healing process. Be a friend; make a friend.
Addiction Treatment Forum www.atforum.com - this offers more than a forum for communicating with others. There is a FAQs section for learning more about addiction issues, news with updates section and archives, a resource section with pdf reports on a variety of addiction-related topics, a calendar of industry events and a guide to other online resource links.
National Mental Health Association www.nmha.org - This is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit organizations that addresses all aspects of mental health and mental illness, issues surrounding addictive disorders. They have over 340 affiliates nationwide and focus on improving mental health via education, advocacy, service and research. For additional help, contact them at 2001 N. Beauregard Street, 12th Floor, Alexandria, VA 22311. Phone (703) 684-7722, fax (703) 684-5968. Mental Health Resource Center (800)969-NMHA. TTY Line (800)433-5959.
In summary, since Addictive Disorders are such an important part of everyday life, and with a variety of solutions and services available to help with treatment and coping, hopefully you can learn more about Overcoming Addictions and share this with others. Knowledge is a key to success.