What Does Stress Have to Do With My Addiction? Part 2

Continued from What Does Stress Have to Do with My Addiction? Part 1.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 

You may also want to ask yourself if you are running from your conscience. Persistent sin in our lives causes undue and untold amounts of stress and diminishes our ability to respond to the natural stressors of life in a healthy and measured way. Consider your life—is confession and repentance in order? Are you avoiding this kind of self-reflection? Is there anything that you are intentionally keeping from others? Can you ask for God’s forgiveness and then believe that you have it? Can you live free of the past?

So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’ Hebrews 13:6

Proper self-care is also essential for long-term sobriety and growth. Though you may be working your recovery program, if you are eating poorly, deprived of sleep, or in poor physical condition, you are welcoming the impact of stress. Realize that your recovery efforts and the work you do to be free of your character defects go beyond working the steps and showing up at meetings. Our emotional and spiritual states are inextricably linked to our physical condition. Taking care of yourself is a priority. Your recovery and sobriety depend upon it.

Are you sharing your burdens with others? The surest way to make yourself crazy is to lock yourself in your own head with your worry. We need the rational input of a (preferably unbiased) third party. If you do not have Christian friends and connections or program fellows with whom you can share your struggle, seek professional counseling. Even a few sessions may help you to reframe your stress and the effect it is having on your life.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Practice prayer and meditation. Step 11 instructs us in these daily practices and they are essential. Sobriety is more than not drinking. It is a process of becoming a person who knows God intimately and who learns what it means to live in faith and according to God’s purposes. When you are connected to God through prayer and meditation, you come to know His goodness firsthand. Suddenly the world, though crazy, seems less hostile. You begin to see where you fit into things. You desire to live a life that honors God and you find freedom from many of the sins that only caused your distress. These practices, though they are disciplines, are not meant to be drudgery. They are for your health and joy.

Develop a practice of gratitude. When we look at what is going well in our lives and we see the many ways in which God has blessed us and come to our rescue, stress and worry naturally diminish. Try intentionally shifting your focus to what is going well right now. Thank God for these things and pray that He would help you to trust Him in the future. The God who has, thus far, blessed you with recovery, is the God who promises to sustain you in the future.

Live in today. So much of our anxiety stems from apprehension or worry about an unknown and uncontrollable future. The Program encourages a 24-hour perspective. Diminish the scope of your vision to view this day only. There is no use wasting energy over what may or may not happen in the future. You have this day to work with only. Do you have what you need for today? Let go of the future—God will deal with it in His time.

I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

The heart of recovery and the root of solid joy is faith. As addicts, we are especially prone to the negative impact of stress and anxiety. For most of us this was why we became addicts. But we are now learning to live in the world in a new way. It isn’t natural for us, but it is possible to adopt new habits and patterns. By working the Program, staying sober, and developing a relationship of trust in and dependence upon God, we can live free of the fears that drove us to addiction. Life can become not only manageable, but joyful as well.