Treatment for substance misuse involves addressing underlying traumas and painful realities about the effects and consequences of addiction. Many people use conscious and unconscious avoidance tactics, including maladaptive ones, to minimize feelings of emotional distress. Unfortunately, maladaptive thought patterns, behaviors, and coping techniques can interfere with rehabilitation and continuing recovery.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “In early treatment, clients can be emotionally fragile, ambivalent about relinquishing chemicals, and resistant to treatment.” At Newport Beach Recovery Center, we encourage clients to face their fears, overcome ambivalence, and work together with our care team to heal from the effects of substance use disorder (SUD).
Stress Management During Treatment
We use multiple therapeutic tools and stress management techniques to help clients manage their symptoms during treatment and aftercare. We help our clients successfully manage stress by doing the following:
- We use a trauma-informed approach to care that reduces the risk of re-traumatization and decreases the severity of anxiety symptoms.
- Our team uses gender-specific care to ensure clients feel safe and understood during treatment and therapy.
- Clients can have weekly contact with their family over the phone or use video conferencing to encourage healthy relationships.
Many people miss their familiar routines and experience significant mood swings due to changes the body undergoes during detox and withdrawal. We help clients cope with symptoms and establish healthy habits. In addition, our team has decades of combined experience treating SUD, and we can assist clients in recognizing avoiding tactics and combatting ambivalence.
Common Forms of Avoidance
Substance use disorder can develop as an unhealthy coping mechanism to reduce emotional distress. Treatment will address underlying causes of avoidance related to substance misuse, including:
- Ambivalence or uncertainty about treatment
- Social stigmas and self-stigmatization
- An unwillingness to change
- Fear of facing the consequences of past actions
- Anxiety or fear of the unknown
- Lack of motivation
Understanding the cause of maladaptive behavior can make it easier to change. The most common forms of avoidance include:
- Choosing not to reflect on personal thoughts, behaviors, or past actions.
- Blaming others for personal failings and behaving passive-aggressively toward people who want to help.
- Making constant excuses to procrastinate and put off treatment, therapy, and change.
- Spending too much time thinking deeply about issues and possible solutions without taking action.
- Not giving new routines a chance to become established before dismissing them as unhelpful and returning to old habits.
Fear of change or anxiety about the unknown might stop some people from ever seeking help for their substance misuse. Unfortunately, sometimes people do not realize their actions have delayed necessary treatments and lowered their quality of life.
Achieving and Maintaining Emotional Stability
Avoidance tactics are often a way to maintain emotional equilibrium by not engaging with people or activities that might trigger emotional distress. In many cases, individuals with SUD have historically used substances during moments of high stress. Encountering stressful subjects or situations in treatment might trigger cravings, flashbacks, or intrusive thoughts – typical symptoms of SUD. Learning how to cope with them in a controlled environment will decrease the risk of relapse and help you learn how to manage everyday stressors healthily.
5 Ways to Overcome Avoidance
Overcoming ambivalence toward treatment or fears related to triggers takes hard work and determination. First, you must actively choose to find new ways to cope with stressful situations instead of avoiding them. Below are five ways you can counter consciousness or unconscious avoidance tactics.
#1. Learn to Recognize Avoidance Behaviors
Learning to recognize avoidance behaviors is the most crucial step in retraining yourself to cope with challenges instead of avoiding them. Some common tactics include:
- Rationalizing unhealthy behaviors instead of addressing them and actively working to fix them,
- Putting off changes to another time when you “feel better,”
- Not disclosing issues to your therapist or support team, and ignoring them
#2. Challenge Irrational Beliefs and Thoughts
Everyone has irrational beliefs and thoughts that affect their life to some degree. When those thoughts interfere with your ability to cope with specific issues in your life, then it might be time to analyze those beliefs and find ways to replace them with ones that will improve your mental health. When you come to a moment where you can avoid addressing an issue or face it head-on and deal with it, irrational beliefs might start popping up with inherent reasons to continue avoiding progress. You need to challenge those thoughts and find the motivation to continue making progress.
#3. Decrease Stress Using Mindfulness
Mindfulness-based techniques like deep breathing, grounding exercises, and meditation can decrease overall stress and help you think more rationally and clearly about situations in your life. In addition, you will be more mentally focused if you regularly practice mindfulness, making it easier to implement healthy strategies and recognize avoidance behaviors.
#4. Talk About Your Avoidance Behaviors in Therapy
Your therapist is there to help you work through problems and find healthy solutions that will improve your mental health and quality of life. If you identify an area of avoidance, bring it up to your therapist, and use their objective perspective to find new ways of thinking about the issue.
#5. Practice Self-Care and Maintain Self-Accountability
Self-care involves making choices that prioritize your health and well-being. By practicing regular self-care and maintaining self-accountability, you can avoid falling back into old thought patterns or behaviors. Some popular forms of self-care include:
- Meditation or low-stress exercises like yoga
- Doing something you love
- Visiting with loved ones and friends
- Taking time for yourself
Many people in early recovery struggle with ambivalence, fear of change, and an unwillingness to face challenging aspects of recovery. Therapy can help you recognize the value of addressing problem areas and positively changing your thoughts and behaviors. Accepting the need for change and learning to identify maladaptive behaviors can make it easier to start living a healthier lifestyle. For example, sustained avoidance causes severe issues with your personal life, relationships, and long-term recovery. You can stop consciously or unconsciously using avoidance tactics by using mindfulness techniques, increasing self-awareness, and practicing regular self-care. Newport Beach Recovery Center uses evidence-based methods to teach essential coping skills that will allow you to face and overcome challenges related to recovery from SUD. To learn more about our facility and the programs we offer, call us today at (888) 850-0363. Our team can help you find the motivation to stop avoiding progress.