Addiction Recovery and the Nostalgia Trap
Sometimes it’s part of human nature to feel nostalgic – looking back at the past through rose-tinted glasses and wishing we could go back. Although fond memories are an essential part of the human experience on God’s earth, they can be extremely dangerous to someone in addiction recovery.
What Is Nostalgia?
Even if you’re not familiar with the word, you’ll know the feeling. The definition of nostalgia is a longing for some time in the past. Rather than a simple memory, nostalgia paints a warmer picture of times gone by. This often distorts past situations and idealizing them. Remembering things as better than they were is an almost universal trap we all fall into, but for many.
Why Is Nostalgia Dangerous During Addiction Recovery?
However, nostalgia can be extremely dangerous when it comes to addiction recovery. Many former addicts fall into the trap of looking back favorably on their old addiction days. This is especially common during the actual recovery process before they begin to get clean truly. The warmth and familiarity of their substance of choice appear even more appealing with they’re suffering through withdrawal. When it comes to nostalgia, bad memories often exist in a blind spot. This makes it difficult to remind the addict, or former addict, of some of the steep downsides of their addictions.
Avoiding Nostalgia and Making New Memories
But how can you avoid nostalgia during addiction recovery if it’s such a regular fact of life? It can certainly be hard work, but with the right mindset, the right support network, and the guidance of God, a recovering addict can refocus on what matters in their new life. Forming new memories is an essential factor in combating nostalgia for the days past.
The first and most obvious way to do this is to try new things. From taking up exercise to fight withdrawal and temptation to going all out with skydiving, or just joining a local church group to socialize, any new hobby or experience offers a way to make new memories. A more challenging but potentially longer-lasting way to tackle nostalgia is to return to familiar places from those addiction days but use it as an opportunity to make new memories. We don’t suggest hanging around where drugs or substances were bought or taken. Still, places associated with those times visited with supportive friends and family can be a great way of confronting and overwriting memories of those days. The critical thing to remember is to always go with support – friends and loved ones who don’t want to see you fall back into old habits.
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