Tips from a Former Addict: How I Made a Change for Good

I was a drug addict. Yes, I did it all. No, my childhood was not full of abuse, I was actually a pretty lucky kid, and I had it no worse and no better than anyone else, except for maybe some “daddy issues.”

I am not much for blame. I know who was smoking, sniffing, and popping, and it wasn’t the bad angel on my shoulder who made me do it, it was just me.

I can give you the exact reason why I started doing drugs. I was afraid to just be myself, simple enough. Everyone else’s thoughts of who I needed to be or what made me cool was more important than embracing my authentic self.

Drugs were a huge part of my life, and they influenced the places, people, and pain I endured, but again, this was still all a choice.

I had wonderful opportunities at my fingertips but let them go for a long-term abusive relationship.

I lost jobs, burned bridges, and hurt my family.

I stole, lied, and fought.

Had random sex, lost respect, and wanted to die.

On a good note, I still maintained a relationship with my higher power. Even though I checked out on him, he was always there to check in on me, and I always had my mother’s, sister’s, and best friend’s support. This is major because we are not meant to do this alone.

Change Is a Brewin’

Before any change happens, most people need something extreme to take place, like a near-death experience or hitting rock bottom.

Unfortunately, I had to hit rock bottom—a couple of times.

The first time, I had started doing heroin for a good three weeks, and as my whole world was spiraling out of control—like breaking my boyfriend’s hand for what looked like a piece of black tar heroin… only to find out it was just a piece of stepped-on gum on the floor—a glimpse of light still managed to show through, and I made a decision right there.

I quit… for good. Yes, it happened that fast. Turns out I’m not about that life.

The second time, I was homeless with my sister. My mom was tired; who could blame her? She had two daughters she loved with all her heart who continued to make the worst choices, despite what she taught us. So, she kicked us out.

Subconsciously, I was desperately seeking a better path. My actions would say otherwise, but deep down we all know what we really need. I was finally ready to make the choice to make a change.

Change for Good

“No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again.” ~Buddha

If you want change, if you truly want it, it will be so. Don’t say I’m “trying.” That implies you are still holding resistance, and as Buddha also says:

“Change is not painful, only resistance to change is painful.”

A drug addict, or anyone who has ever been addicted to anything in their lives, knows they will stop when they want to. This is at no one else’s will but their own. That doesn’t mean it will be easy or they won’t need help. Just that it starts with a choice—their own.

If you have ever seen the show Intervention, you know it is very rare that someone who was brought to rehab by the petition of their family ever stays away from drugs for good.

This is a dire truth, but I can tell you from experience that when you don’t make this commitment for yourself, the decision loses its empowering effect, and you won’t know the feeling of having sovereignty over your own life.

Whether you are a drug addict or just know you need something to change, accept that you need change and start searching (like you’re doing now, and luckily it brought you to me).

I am not perfect now… or am I, since I am finally being me? There are days I still get stuck in a mood, but the difference now is I have learned to acknowledge it.

Acknowledge It… Whatever You’re Feeling

After I stopped doing drugs completely, and I mean completely, I realized my anxiety was at an all-time high every day. What I needed to do first was acknowledge it, but I kept trying to hide it. Like I was trying to convince myself that I didn’t feel the way I was feeling. I guess because I hadn’t realized yet that I really didn’t know who I was without drugs.

Say it out loud, even if it’s weird, “I feel so anxious right now” or “I am feeling sad”—it dissipates faster, and maybe if you say it to someone you trust, they can help dig up what the issue is. My boyfriend and I do this with each other and found that sometimes a hug does the trick.

Once you start admitting that you’re not feeling okay—right when your body is signaling you—you can search deeper into why and find out by paying attention to patterns.

First, I started acknowledging that I was feeling crappy. I began to also pay attention to the thought patterns that led up to the feeling, or what happened just before the feeling commenced.

This gives you glimpse into the type of thoughts you are ruminating on. Is there something you have not let go? Is there an irrational thought that keeps coming up? Is your self-talk demeaning?

When you suppress it, it comes out in lots of different ways, trust me.

I am the queen of looking crazy because I blew up randomly at a co-worker, overreacted completely to a joke (and made it awkwaaaard), yelled at my boyfriend when he wasn’t giving me the right responses to a story I was telling, and my favorite phrase as the broken girl was, “No one gets me…” Acting like a victim is not the same as admitting what you are really feeling, though it may be easier.

Find the Good, and Self-Love Will Follow

During your search, you will find an abundance of “ways to make yourself happy” and outlandish claims of instant happy pills or whatever.

The important thing right now is to adopt good habits—go toward good and good things will follow. The key is learning to love yourself. The hard part is finding ways to apply this.

There are two main ways I’ve learned to be good to myself: yoga and meditation.

This dynamic duo is popular for a reason, guys.

I recommend Yoga with Adriene, all day. She is amazing. She always says, “Find what feels good.” To a drug addict like me, I/m like, that’s what got me in this mess, Adriene, but if you insist.

All joking aside, if you have ever done something like drugs, impulse buying, or even eating a donut, it makes you feel good for a short period of time, right?

And then you seem to need more, feel guilty, or crash (maybe all three). Finding what feels good, in Adriene’s terms, is listening to your body, not your impulses.

For example, you know when you stretch after you’ve been sitting down for a while, you just seem to know exactly how and which way to move because you know what feels good? Start there. If you practice both yoga and meditation, take all your expectations and trash them. Just listen to whomever is teaching you and follow their guidance.

Turn Those Good Habits into a Ritual

After I found yoga and meditation, I started to enjoy taking care of myself. This was more than an addiction; it soon became second nature.

I recommend you start with:

  • Yoga in the morning. Yoga with Adriene has a ton of beginner videos I started with
  • Mediate whenever you can. I recommend Dr. Tara Brach, who teaches mediation and emotional healing so you can learn easily to do it on your own
  • Make time to do something you really love. Mine was drawing and painting.

You would think eating healthy would be on the list, right?

Stopping drugs cold turkey made me lose my appetite, so I was proud if I ate anything at all. But, before I knew it, the chemicals in my brain changed and I started to crave healthy food, and in abundance.

I didn’t just jump into some random diet because I was “doing everything good for me” now. I knew I needed to take things step by step when making such a big life change and let healthy habits naturally build on top of each other. When we try to do too much at once, and try to form new habits without intrinsic motivation, we often fail.

Inc.com explains about 60% of us make New Year’s resolutions but only about 8% of us actually achieve them. We are humans, not technology; we can’t click on a software update and “you are now equipped to achieve your goals”—in my best Google Home voice.

Give yourself some time and be kind to yourself. Once you start making healthy choices, you will naturally want to make more. Honestly, I was proud of myself for already achieving what I had, and my soul couldn’t get enough. I was treating myself with respect, then came love, and then came a deep connection to everything and everyone around me.

Though you might start feeling happier with yourself and your life, this doesn’t mean you’ll be happy all the time.

If you need to cry, let the tears flow. There were some days I would ball my eyes out non-stop but feel so cleansed afterward. Actually, there are even some days now when I feel I need to cry and I just do it. And you know what? My anxiety disappears when I didn’t even realize it was building up in the first place.

Learn Your Triggers and Avoid Them for Now

During my transformation I had to start identifying my triggers and avoiding situations I knew would start the cycle all over. I realized this meant the difference between change for now and change for good.

Whatever you are struggling with, identify what triggers you the most into doing it. This will involve you really being honest with yourself, and not judging yourself for what you find out. Right now is not the time to be your own worst critic.

I hope you know that just reading through this shows how strong you are and how capable you are of living life as yourself and truly at peace.

I am the first to call myself out, beat myself up, and feel guilty as hell. Don’t do this to yourself.

This is a vulnerable time, and you need all the love you can get—giving yourself love is the only way to conquer what is causing you pain.

So instead of going out when everyone else was, I stayed home because I knew that social scenes would make me want to grab a drink; I would start smoking a cigarette (which I also quit), and then who knows what I would want to get my hands on once I was on a roll.

I waited months before I trusted myself to get out and hang. The power you attain when you realize you can say no—without FOMO—is greater than any feeling you are chasing by giving in.

If I can do it, so can you.

You have a whole support system available to you, and yeah, maybe it’s full of strangers in a meeting. But once you get in touch with yourself, you will realize we’re not really strangers at all; we all come from the same energy, and we all mean way more to each other than you’ve ever thought.

If you ever need support from somewhere, you can always get it from me. The real me. Without drugs. Finally unafraid to be myself, because I finally love myself.

**This post represents one person’s personal experience and may or may not reflect your unique situation. Especially f you’ve experienced trauma or abuse, you may need professional help to address the root cause of your addiction. There is no shame in getting help, or in struggling as you work toward recovery. Be good to yourself, be patient with yourself, and keep reaching out if you’ve yet to find the right people to help you!

About Amanda Garcia

Amanda Garcia is an empath and painter who just wants to help others love themselves enough to be themselves. She believes we are all connected and embracing who we are is essential for our growth as a whole. She loves to laugh and feels laughter is the best medicine, especially in the darkest moments. If she were to leave you with just one thing, it would be to remember to smile and help others do the same. You can contact her on Facebook messenger facebook.com/amanda.garcia.391 if you are interested in a custom art piece or just need a friend to chat with.

See a typo or inaccuracy? Please contact us so we can fix it!