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5 Tips for Breaking Free of the Alcoholic Identity in Recovery

The way people think about things has a huge impact on the type of life they experience. If you give up drinking but continue to think like an alcoholic, it will prevent you from getting the most out of this new life. It could mean that you develop 'dry drunk syndrome' - this is where you are physically sober but still suffering as if you were caught up in addiction. Here are five tips to help you break free of the alcoholic identity.

1. Spend Time around Inspirational People Who Are Sober

The people you spend your time with will have a huge impact on the way you see the world. This is why many caught up in addiction tend to spend their time with others in the same predicament. If you deliberately start hanging around those who have already achieved success in sobriety, you are likely to begin picking up some good mental habits. These people may even inspire you to achieve more than you ever thought possible.

2. Be Willing to Let Go of Unhelpful Beliefs and Opinions

The reason people end up staying trapped in addiction for so long is that they believe in things that are just not true. An example of this would be the belief that life will not be any fun without alcohol. It is likely that when you get sober there will still be self-limiting beliefs holding you back from the happiness you deserve. It is vital that you develop the willingness to seek out these beliefs and remove them from your thinking.

3. Understand That You Are Not Your Thoughts

It might sound a bit too Zen, but the reality is that you are not really your thoughts. If these thoughts were all that you were, it would not be possible to break free of addiction - especially when you have so many thoughts urging you to keep drinking. One of the skills you can develop in sobriety is the ability to be more mindful about your thoughts; this means you get much better at deciding on which thoughts would be allowed to dictate your behaviour.

4. Develop a Beginner's Mind

In Alcoholics Anonymous, there is a humorous saying that contains a lot of truth: my best thinking got me here. If the current ideas you have about the world did allow you to fall into addiction, you will probably benefit from changing the way you think about many things. Humans have this strong urge to be right all the time, which could mean that they automatically refuse new ideas. This is a very dangerous attitude in recovery as it is likely that you will need to try many new things to find real happiness.

5. Watch Out for Demand Resistance

It is common for those falling into addiction to suffer from demand resistance. This is an almost unconscious need to rebel in response to any demands or expectations. It is believed that individuals develop demand resistance because they faced unrealistic expectations as a child; for example, young children realise that they can never live up to the demands of their parent so they cope by rebelling against these demands. Demand resistance can cause many to sabotage their own recovery, so it is very important to stay on the lookout for any symptoms of it. The way to overcome it is to get into the habit of saying 'yes' to things rather than giving an automatic 'no'.

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