One of the reasons why it’s easy to get stuck on using a substance is because it can so easily take away heavy feelings. For instance, the following is a list of feelings that might lead someone to turn to drugs or alcohol. When feelings are persistent, showing up in life time and again, and when they are intense, they are often accompanied with fear and a desire to escape them. Here are some feelings that can be challenging to face:

  • -anger
  • -resentment built up over time
  • -feeling the need to lash out verbally or physically
  • -guilt for lashing out or guilt for feeling angry
  • -anxiety, worry, or stress
  • -boredom
  • -missing the excitement of using when you’ve experienced it and enjoyed it
  • -feelings of emptiness, sadness, or depression
  • -feeling hopeless about the future
  • -feeling guilty about what you have put your family or others through
  • -not feeling attractive, smart, or financially stable enough
  • -feeling a deep sense of shame about who you are
  • -feeling like no one loves you
  • -feeling incapable of loving others
  • -feeling heavy criticism around you
  • -feeling hurt or left out
  • -feelings of sorrow about losing someone you love
  • -deep regret about the past

One of the primary ways to face feelings is to develop a practice of relaxation. Learning how to relax on a regular basis gives you access to your own inner resources. When you feel strong, stable, and secure inside you’re less likely to lash out when something (or someone) triggers you.

The following is a list of activities to do instead of turning to drugs or alcohol when you’re experiencing heavy or challenging feelings.

  • -Take a walk.
  • -Exercise.
  • -Write in a journal.
  • -Vent your feelings in a safe place – with a trusted friend or therapist.
  • -When you notice a negative thought, change it to a positive one.
  • -Stay aware of any negative thoughts you say to yourself and change them.
  • -Go to a yoga class.
  • -Breathe. There are many breathing techniques to learn that you can implement in times of emotional challenge.
  • -Go for a bike ride.
  • -Sit on the beach and think about the best way to respond to the situation you’re bothered with.
  • -Learn other relaxation techniques to keep yourself more calm throughout the day.
  • -Tell yourself not to take it personally.
  • -Coach yourself to make a healthy choice instead of reacting to your feelings.

It takes practice to make new choices. But essentially building a life without alcohol or drugs is doing just that – choosing to not drink or use drugs when you’re feeling an uncomfortable feeling.

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