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How to Respond to Addiction

Do you know the difference between reacting to addiction and responding to addiction?

Knowing the difference will ensure you overcome your addiction long-term, so keep reading to learn how to respond to addiction.

One of the great benefits to relaxation techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, is that you learn how to respond versus react. The differences between respond and react may not appear to be obvious right away. But when you learn to respond versus react you might find that you’re creating a whole new life for yourself!

For instance, when you are faced with a circumstance, especially if it’s a stressful one, you might continue to react to it in the way you always have in the past. When you are reacting, you are often behaving out of unconsciousness, meaning you will behave in ways that are familiar to you. You will react in knee-jerk ways, without giving it thought. Reacting to something usually happens quickly, arising out of emotion or habit.

Yet, responding to something is much different.

Common Reactions to Addiction

When you respond, you are thoughtful in the way you behave. Response requires careful consideration. It requires that you take some time to reflect, think, and make a choice consciously. For instance, when you realize that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, reacting to your addiction might only lead you to these behaviors:

  • Continue to use
  • Ignore the problem
  • Point to everyone else as having a problem
  • Keep believing that there’s nothing wrong
  • Continue to avoid symptoms pointing to the disease of addiction

However, responding to your addiction means that you care.

How to Respond to Addiction

You care about your psychological, physical, and emotional well being. Instead of reacting to the substance use, you might respond in one of the following ways:

  • Call a friend who cares about you
  • Talk to a family member who is concerned about you
  • Call a local treatment center
  • Attend an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-step meeting
  • Call a local therapist or psychologist
  • Attend a support group for addicts
  • Research information online about the disease of addiction and how to heal it

You might be able to see the difference between reacting and responding. Reacting is more emotional, habitual, and easier. It’s the choice that requires the less amount of energy because it’s what you’re used to and what feels the most familiar. However, responding may often require a different choice than you’ve been used to in the past. It’s may require more energy, focus, and effort. It might mean that you do some research, make phone calls, and talk to others about what’s going on. Lastly, remember that by responding to your addiction, versus reacting to it, you’re essentially taking responsibility for it. Responsibility is the ability to respond.

Response + Ability = Responsibility

To put it bluntly, reacting to your addiction is behaving out of a certain immaturity. However, responding to your addiction is a mature way to approach what’s not going well in your life. As mentioned at the start of this article, practices of relaxation facilitate the ability to respond versus react. If you’re already using relaxation techniques in your recovery, they will support your ability to make new choices and see your life in a new way!  If you’re not, adopting a relaxation technique and using it every day can help relax those old mental patterns and create space between how you would have reacted in the past and how you might respond to life today.