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Negative behaviors which were rampant during addiction can crop up during sobriety and threaten you with a relapse. These are often traits that served us well in our addiction by enabling us to use or drink with minimal interference. By evaluating our behavior through the lens of humility, we are able to see when old addictive behaviors resurface and hurt the people around us and if they may be leading you to a relapse.
There are a few ways in which old addictive behavior can lead a recovering alcoholic down the path of a relapse. While the following examples are attributes I have heard many recovering alcoholics and addicts admit to having, I will simply speak for myself and my own experience. If you are in long-term recovery and you have similar or different experiences, I’d love to hear your insights!
My first and worst old addictive behavior is that I tend to be very selfish and focused on only what is happening in my life. It is really easy for me to forget how to listen to other people or be a good partner when I’m only focused on my problems. Similarly, that means I have a tendency to not have compassion for those around me. Without compassion, I can get angry easily and anger often spurs the desire to drink within me. If left unchecked, that desire may lead me to drink.
What helps me battle selfishness is making a conscious effort to help other people. Sometimes that means calling a friend just to ask how they are doing, and others it’s as simple as offering to help someone across the street. When I think about the people around me and focus on their needs or wants, I am able to relate to them enough to feel compassion for their struggles. If I can help someone else, I get relief from my own self-imposed anger, frustration, and anxiety. This practice directly impacts my peace of mind on a daily basis.