What’s the key to overcoming addiction and anxiety? Acceptance! Let’s say someone is trying to self-medicate from anxiety using drugs, alcohol, or something else. They must accept that addiction is not the answer for their anxiety and get into recovery. Dr. Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, put it this way, “Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.”
Once in recovery, an individual must also accept anxiety and learn how to deal with it in healthy ways. If not, fear will destroy their efforts to recover completely, and they’re likely to relapse. Scripture confirms that anxiety can wreak havoc when it says, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up” (Proverbs 12:25, NIV).
Anxiety can be such a burden that it’ll cause a person to do anything to find relief. One central fear is that of the unknown. Not knowing what will happen can drive a person to control their environment and everyone in it. As a result, anxiety leads someone to try to control so much that is out of their control. They believe they can prevent bad things from happening and people from getting upset with them—no one, though, can control all their circumstances, all the time.
Therefore, a person stuck in addiction falsely thinks using food, shopping, codependency, pornography, or another crutch will improve life. They find temporary relief from the anxiety by using what they believe they can control, but later, the fear comes back. One gets even more desperate for something else to take away the anxiety they think they can handle. Perhaps they take away one habit like overeating and replace it with another such as smoking.
Learning to accept anxiety in healthy ways is an essential component of recovery. A person must renew their mind with the truth, for it is the truth that will set them free. One strategy is to learn how to recognize anxious thoughts. Be aware of all or nothing thinking, over-generalization, dwelling on the negative, magnification, minimization, and worrying about the future. A person must speak the truth by using positive self-talk to calm a fearful mind.
If anxiety is overwhelming, seek the help of a licensed counselor from the New Life Counseling Network. A counselor can help anxious individuals process their fears, develop new ways of handling life, and learn to take risks and grow.
Learn to accept anxiety, understand it, identify the anxiety-producing thoughts, and replace them with the truth. Anyone who does this can overcome anxiety and prevent a relapse.
by Chris Cole