Leaving drug use behind can feel like losing a lover. Christopher Robin looks at how to cope.
Perhaps you need a new perspective, a new way of looking at your drug or alcohol use, I suggest to clients. Your connection with a drug is like a relationship – and relationships, as we know, come in many forms; some healthy, some unhealthy.
In a marriage, two people fall in love, decide to spend their lives together and make vows to love, honour and respect each other, forsaking all others for as long as they both live. These are huge promises that hold many challenges and changes, including the individual growth of each person.
The years pass, the love changes. The things that were once endearing may now be irritating. Desire diminishes, the ageing process takes each person in a different direction, yet both parties are reluctant to let go. They take comfort in the familiar, fear the unknown and create reasons to remain as they are – even though neither is happy. Put your substance of choice in place of a partner. Do these feelings and fears sound familiar?
Imagine this marriage now becomes undermining and destructive. Finally, one or both decide that separation and divorce is the only way forward. The separation is difficult and full of sadness. Sometimes the couple fight over belongings, only to collapse in tears and then wonder if they made the right decision. They remember the good times and wonder how it could have come to this. Sometimes they embrace, make love one more time, then feel guilty, confused and regretful. Could they have avoided divorce? Alas, they know things have gone tchrisr.
Once you’ve made the decision to separate and divorce, the transition can feel difficult and dangerous. You may want to go back, to feel the familiarity. You might feel lonely and yearn for the one who made you feel so good. You might even go back for a night and indulge yourself, even though in the morning it’s difficult to get away. If you decide ‘never again’, the loss is so great and the yearning almost overpowering, enticing you with selective memories. So how do you get through? How do you resist the yearning and craving?
At the end of any long and intense relationship, including substance misuse, you need to learn to deal with the loss and the accompanying changes. How do you spend your free time, what do you do at weekends, how do you sleep? You slowly and gradually build strength and resilience with help and support, and by doing things that perhaps you never thought you would.
It can be a long journey, yet every day can bring a lovely surprise. Just remember, some days you may have to look for it.
Chris Robin is at Enigma Drug & Alcohol Consultancy, www.enigma-drugs-consultancy.co.uk