Today we’re looking at “How to develop self-discipline in addiction recovery”.
If you’ve ever had an addiction then you have amazing self-discipline and control, it’s just being used, or is sometimes being highjacked, in the service of the substance you are using.

People who use drugs or alcohol tend to be committed to it and they are very focused and disciplined and all their resources are in the service of the drug / alcohol payoff, often to the detriment of everything and everyone else in their life.

Rehabs and treatment programmes try to teach people new habits, the rational being that a new habit will replace the old habit. New ways if being, via a programme schedule or a set of ‘house’ rules becomes the proxy for change. If you show compliance here that’s evidence of change and that change will stand you in good stead later on. So, programmes measure compliance and programme completion as proxy measures to show how well they are doing with helping people with addiction recovery.

Discipline and control, without the word ‘self’ in front of these two preceding words you have a regime that is preoccupied with compliance. Focusing on compliance with a regime or specific programme means the person becomes good at complying within the structure of the treatment service and when the structure is removed (at the end of treatment or if treatment is withdrawn for non-compliance) then the person finds it difficult to cope in the ‘real’ world.

Its important not to infantilise people in treatment otherwise all you get is a form of learned helplessness. Yes, people coming out of a chaotic lifestyle will need to learn a new routine, get structure, and develop discipline and putting ‘self’ in front of discipline and control internalises the new habits and becomes resilience that is useful on the onward recovery journey.

Self-discipline refers to the ability to regulate our behaviour and actions, even in the face of temptation or distraction. When it comes to addiction recovery, self-discipline and control can help individuals stay on track, resist cravings, and make healthy choices that support their sobriety.

Here are some ways in which self-discipline can support addiction recovery:

1. Staying committed:
Self-discipline helps individuals stay committed to their recovery goals, even when faced with challenges or setbacks. It helps individuals resist the urge to give up or give in to temptation.

2. Managing triggers:
Self-discipline can help individuals identify and manage triggers that may lead to relapse. By practicing self-discipline, individuals can avoid situations that may be risky or triggering.

3. Making healthy choices:
Self-discipline can help individuals make healthy choices that support their recovery, such as choosing healthy foods, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep.

4. Building self-esteem:
Practicing self-discipline can help individuals build self-esteem and self-confidence. By setting and achieving goals, individuals can gain a sense of accomplishment and pride.
What can we do to develop self-discipline in addiction recovery?

Here are some suggestions (it’s not an exhaustive list so any you can add will be great too):

1. Set clear goals:
Setting clear goals can help us stay focused and motivated. It’s important to set realistic goals that are achievable and measurable and without goals there is nothing to aim at, nothing to be self-disciplined for or towards.

2. Create a routine:
Establishing a routine can help us develop good habits and stick to them. A routine can also provide structure and stability, which can be helpful in recovery.

3. Practice mindfulness:
Mindfulness can help individuals stay focused on the present moment and avoid getting caught up in thoughts or emotions that may lead to relapse. Mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing or meditation can be helpful in developing self-discipline.

4. Seek support:
Support from friends, family, or a support group can be helpful in developing self-discipline. Having a support system can provide encouragement, accountability, and motivation.

Bear in mind it takes time and practice to build self-discipline. I’m 30-years+ in recovery and I’m still practicing, still learning, still working through issues and they are noy to do with addiction per-sè, they are to do with all the underpinning issues in my life that led me to use drugs in the first place.

Stay tuned for tomorrows lent offering when I’ll look at some other recovery resources out there that I’ve used and that I’ve recommended to others.