Letting Go of Old Behaviors


Table of Contents

It seems obvious to state that our lives in recovery are different from our lives in the disease. But this idea isn’t as simple as it might appear. Indeed, many alcoholics and addicts resist finding recovery because they don’t want things to be too different. That might sound odd but think about it. We’ve all done it to one degree or another. We resist some sponsor direction or the pleading of our conscience or even cling to a character defect that still provides us some twisted benefit. We try to avoid change here and there. People like routines because they are comforting.

But familiar and comfortable doesn’t always mean good. Think of the alcoholic or addict who desperately wants to get sober, finds the program of recovery, but doesn’t want it to take over his life and change everything. He just wants to stop abusing substances — he doesn’t want to change his whole life. So he leaves the rooms of recovery because it might have changed too much. Experience tells us that after that decision, nothing may ever change for our friend. He might never find recovery, and what a shame that would be. This disease we all have in common kills far too many of us. Change is hard, but is it worth our lives?

We come into the program of recovery with a lot of habits, most of them bad. A lot of hobbies, not all of them necessarily legal. A lot of friends, most of them from the bar. Yet, when asked to let go of these things to find freedom and recovery from our deadly disease, so many hesitate or refuse. These old behaviors may kill us, so why do we have such a hard time letting go? What can we do about it?

Everything Changes, But Life Is Still Life

It’s pretty normal to resist change — in fact, it’s downright human. But that doesn’t mean it’s of any use. Resisting change is choosing to be at odds with life. The very nature of things is to change. Nature itself is change. Life is change. There isn’t anything we can do about change. Either we try to fight it and deny and suffer the whole time, or we learn to accept and embrace it and benefit from inner peace.

This can be especially hard for alcoholics and addicts like us. We enjoy dependable routines, comforting habits, and desperately trying to control everything. Routines and comfort aren’t bad on their own, but they can beat us up when we try to impose them onto things they don’t fit. Look, life doesn’t stop being life when we find recovery. But the 12-Steps help us find a way of peacefully and successfully living life on life’s terms. Life’s terms — that’s right, we’re not the boss.

We can find tons of great ways to live happier, healthier, freer, and more fulfilled lives than we’ve ever imagined if we just stop trying to make life behave our way. If we embrace change in all things, we can better appreciate every present moment.

Dealing With Nostalgia

Resisting the changes of life sometimes looks like remembering the past, then romanticizing it and getting angry that things aren’t that way anymore. We wish for the “good old days” again and neglect the present moment of the life we are currently living. We need to look closely at those “good old days” with our sponsor and some 12-Step inventory. Like musician Billy Joel says, “The good old days weren’t always good and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.” The hangovers, the arrests, the sketchy “friends” and long bad nights, the pain and sorrow, the fear — our disease might’ve been a party sometimes, but that wasn’t the whole picture. Not by a long shot.

We get so used to our old ways of being, our old behaviors, and habits. We fear that we’ll lose our identity if we let go of those things. But those things were never our identity. Our lives in the disease belonged to the disease. How much influence did we even have? In recovery, we can discover what our identity really is. We are free to explore the whole wide world and find the kinds of hobbies, habits, and behaviors that we want to make part of our new lives in recovery. Just because we spent a long time making certain mistakes doesn’t mean we have to stay committed to them. We can live new lives now.

Why We May Need Change

Let’s be realistic here: if things had been working out, we might not have needed the 12-Steps. As the old saying goes, “Nobody makes it to recovery on a winning streak.” All jokes aside, if we cling to parts of our life in our disease, we risk being dragged back to that old life by what we’re hanging on to. We may miss those friends from the bar or the party house but think of all the people who will miss us if we die from alcoholism or addiction. Any ties that hold us close to the life we lived in our disease make it that much easier to slip back into the old behaviors that were killing us.

There Is A Solution

The 12-Step program can not only help us find freedom and recovery but so much more. Recovery is not about paying for our past, nor is it about clinging to our past. Recovery is about embracing healthy change and the promise of a bright and beautiful future. Take the 12-Steps and find out to which new places they will take you.

Alcoholics and addicts often get stuck in very self-destructive patterns. We get accustomed to our way of living and begin to think that insane things are quite normal. We can’t see ourselves, especially in our disease. We build habits, routines, and behaviors around our disease. We cut ties with almost everyone except for those who share or encourage our alcoholism and addiction. We lose touch with everything that doesn’t fit with our lifestyle. When we find recovery, we often get uncomfortable about the prospect of leaving this way of life behind. Our alcoholic and addict way of life may have seemed normal to us, but there’s nothing about those old behaviors that will help us in recovery. Luckily for us, the 12-Step program can help us find the friendship and fellowship we seek. It can also help us find meaning and purpose in our daily life, and it will teach us new behaviors to make our lives better every day and serve others. If you are ready to let go of the old and begin a new life in recovery, call Jaywalker Lodge 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.