Aren’t Healthy Coping Mechanisms Enough?

Table of Contents

“Healthy coping mechanisms” has become a common catchphrase in popular psychology today. It’s a catch-all term for self-care, emotional balance, rational reaction, and general mental and emotional well-being. Any number of healthy, clear-headed, and constructive tools and practices that allow us to process, deal with, and navigate life events are considered healthy coping mechanisms. They are essentially great things to have close at hand in our daily bag of life skills. 

Things like breathing exercises, therapy, and meditation can all be healthy coping mechanisms. Make no mistake — these things are absolutely wonderful. Participation and practice with healthy coping mechanisms are highly encouraged. Just because it is an often-used psychology term does not make it something to be dismissed. Any segment of society that wants people to be healthy and live well will encourage some fashion of coping with the turmoil and chaos that inevitably occur in life.

Say Goodbye to Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

It is all too common for alcoholics and addicts to develop a whole host of unhealthy ways of dealing with our lives, thoughts, and emotions. These unhealthy coping mechanisms often make us feel worse and cause unnecessary additional chaos in our lives. The deadly irony is that we often let these unhealthy coping mechanisms become habits because participating in them gives us a brief moment of relief. They never actually help with our problems or help us get through a bad experience, but they do help us escape for a minute. 

Think of smoking a cigarette every time we feel stressed out. We feel relief for a brief time, but the stressful thing doesn’t go away or get fixed. We get sicker and feel worse, and eventually risk cancer and death. Now think of meditating whenever we get stressed out. For a brief time, the stress fills our minds. But eventually we relax, our thoughts slow down, our body begins to feel better in every way. The quiet time in peace and clarity may help us see a solution to our stress, or at least give us a clearer perspective. 

The difference between a healthy and unhealthy coping mechanism is clear. Obviously, learning healthy ways to deal with our troubles is a great thing to do. For many people, they can be of tremendous help. Yet for those of us who are alcoholics and addicts, are healthy coping mechanisms enough to help us on their own?

Our Problem Is More Than Being Maladjusted to Life

Given that our problem is alcoholism and addiction, it goes beyond bad habits and being ill-adjusted to life. If healthy coping mechanisms were enough to solve our ultimate problem, they would have done so by now. The reality for alcoholics and addicts like us is that we need a bigger solution. Lack of power is our dilemma, and we need the 12-Steps to help us connect to that power. We need the 12-Steps to guide us through the necessary psychic change and vital spiritual experience that will help us begin our recovery from the disease. Alcoholism and addiction is a disease. Just like when we have a medical problem, healthy habits may help prevent us from getting sick again, but we still need to take our medicine.

The medicine analogy works well here. If we happen to be diabetic, no one would ever say that it would be bad to eat healthy foods and exercise, but those two healthy things won’t mean much if we don’t take our insulin. We can learn and practice all the healthy coping mechanisms we want to. No one would discourage this. Learning healthy ways to deal with ourselves and our lives is a wonderful addition to our 12-Step program. However, no amount of healthy coping skills can reverse our alcoholism or addiction. We can’t meditate our way out of alcoholism, yet meditation is an integral and foundational part of the 12-Step recovery process. On its own, it could not make us recover. But without it, our recovery may be difficult and precarious.

A Valuable Part of Recovery, But Just a Part

For alcoholics and addicts, healthy coping mechanisms are necessary, but they are not necessarily life-saving on their own. When incorporated into a recovery program at Jaywalker Lodge, they can be indispensable — but to lean on them entirely would make the journey nearly impossible. The good news is that the 12-Steps are full of healthy skills and practices that can transform our lives. The 12-Steps themselves are not a coping mechanism necessarily, but they contain many healthy life lessons. 

Perhaps this is getting a little murky, so let’s get back to basics. Healthy coping mechanisms are needed to navigate life and they are a huge benefit. But as alcoholics and addicts, we need a little more at the foundation of our recovery. The 12-Steps teach us healthy coping mechanisms, but perhaps more importantly, they address the mental obsession, the physical allergy, and the spiritual malady which make us alcoholics and addicts. Without our recovery, we have little chance of ever employing the healthy coping mechanisms we may possess. Recovery must be our foundation and our primary tool for life. Whatever healthy coping mechanisms we can add to enhance and support our recovery is wonderful. They only add to our health, happiness, and how much we can help others. But without maintaining our recovery, it is unlikely that we’ll be able to deal with life in any healthy way.

Alcoholism and addiction are more than bad habits or a lack of self-control. They are a disease, and the lifestyle that accompanies this disease can often ingrain a plethora of unhealthy habits and ineffective coping mechanisms. Thankfully, there is a solution to the disease. The 12-Step program can produce the necessary psychic change and vital spiritual experience that are necessary for lasting recovery. This transformative process is highly effective and available to all who are willing to engage with the 12-Step program. At Jaywalker Lodge, we know firsthand what it is like to struggle with finding sobriety and recovery. We tried and were unsuccessful many times before. Coming to Jaywalker Lodge, putting the 12-Steps first, finally understanding the disease, and working the 12-Steps whole-heartedly saved our lives. Now we are happy, joyous, and free and able to engage in our lives in meaningful and healthy ways. We can help you experience what we have experienced. Call us now at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

Start Your Recovery

Jaywalker provides a specialized and personalized approach for men facing substance abuse, guiding them towards sustainable sobriety while fostering a robust camaraderie among peers on the journey to recovery.
Spread the love:

Experience the world-class men's treatment center in Carbondale, CO

"*" indicates required fields

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.