When someone gives up substances, a vacuum in his or her life emerges. One of the fallacies of recovery is that once someone stops using substances, he or she will be well on his or her way towards a healthy life. However, nature abhors a vacuum and unless someone has some alternatives to substance using behavior, that vacuum will be filled through a relapse.
It’s important, then, to brainstorm with someone (or by yourself) about enjoyable activities that he or she can try such that his or her time isn’t consumed by the obsession for a substance. Once the person has a list, then he or she can pick the 3 or 4 most likely candidates to try. After whittling down the possible activities to the 3 or 4 probable activities, it’s then time to figure out any potential obstacles that can emerge that might prevent the person from trying an activity. This process is meant to, not only plan for the vacuum of not using a substance, but it’s also meant to show a person in early recovery that it is possible to imagine something, and then making it become a reality.
All too often, addicts do not think themselves capable of making positive changes. They may have ideas and may think about making positive changes, but the psychology of Addiction stops positive thoughts and replaces them with negative and defeating thoughts. However, in making a list and then acting upon it, someone can actually begin to associate imagination with reality and then associate their actions with positive change. In other words, the more a person learns that he is capable of making positive changes, the more he learns to trust himself. Trust in oneself is at the core of responsibility.
So, if you or someone you know wants to attempt recovery, help him to make a list of activities that he can do as alternatives to using substances. It may seem pedantic, but learning to make the possible a reality is the key ingredient in becoming psychologically healthy for anyone.