by Laura Geftman, LCSW
Breakups are hard- especially when it’s with your addiction. Sounds kinda funny but it’s not. In addiction we create a longer term relationship with the person we are while we’re using. That person has been overcome by their addiction and isn’t living their best life. It’s a toxic life of survival.
Pulling through into recovery, we unload many aspects of who we’ve been while using and uncover the person under the addiction. As a part of the personal growth that comes with recovery, it’s time to make peace with how you came to this point.
Various exercises can contribute to finding a way to create closure and move on from the addiction you’ve known. One way to crate this kind of healing is in writing a letter to breakup with your addiction. Writing out your thoughts and feelings can help the process of saying goodbye to the person you had been when actively using.
Here are some tips to help you write a breakup letter to your addiction:
- Plan for writing– This isn’t any old letter. It may come with tears and pain, but you’ll be happy to did it. So how can you plan for this kind of letter writing? Find a safe space. Bring tissues. Plan to go to a meeting afterwards or call a friend.
- How it all began– Sometime getting started is the hardest part. It may seems a bot overwhelming to try to make sense of when everything went wrong. It doesn’t have to be that hard. Start where it all started and go from there. When did you first use? How has it impacted your life- both negatively and positively?
- Let it all out– Here it is. Your chance to let it all out. Let ‘er rip. Write out all the pain, hurt, and horror that you feel about what your addiction has put you through. Don’t let it off the hook. Tell your addiction exactly what you think of it. Don’t be afraid to curse, blame and name-call. Your addiction deserves it.
- Surrender– If you’re familiar with the 12 Step program- even if you’re not- before you can embrace recovery, you must admit you are powerless over addiction. You know your substance of choice got you and took control. It’s okay to admit. Do it so we can move on from there.
- Your new relationship– Sometime you need to tell your ex you’ve got someone new to help them move along. Your addiction might need to hear it, too. What have you found to quell your pain? How have you come to know yourself in recovery? What are the benefits of not using?
- Relapse plan– Relapse is part of the disease. It’s okay to let your addiction know exactly what will happen when it comes back for you. Call it out and let it know just what you’ll do such that it won’t get you full-time again.
- After you’re finished– Well now what? What do you do with this letter? It’s up to you. Some people frame it, read it to loved one or group members, and some even burn it. It’s up to you.
Do you have any advice you’d give someone gearing up to write a breakup letter to their addiction? What helpful tips would you suggest?
Seeing a Mental Health Professional
If you become concerned relapse, it’s best to seek the support of a mental health professional- such as a social worker, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist. When you see someone professionally trained in mental health care, they can help you understand the difficulties you’re experiencing.
Sure just the thought of seeking mental healthcare can create more cravings. You may think they will make you talk about your past. Or that you won’t connect with them to feel comfortable to talk about anything. Maybe you’re afraid to cry in front of anyone let alone a stranger. Worse- you think they’ll put you in a hospital, rehab or institution.
Please know I don’t bring this up to elicit fear but to say- those who work in the mental health field are trained to work with you at your own pace. You don’t have to talk about anything you don’t want to. Ever. The idea is to create a safe space for you to feel comfortable to connect with someone who can help you understand your symptoms and learn to manage them. Therapist are legally bound to uphold privacy and confidentiality. That means they can only repeat what you’ve said to them if they are concerned about your safety or the safety of others. Anything else you tell a therapist, they cannot repeat to anyone else without your consent. You literally have to sign paperwork stating they can talk to others about what you’ve shared with them.
Keep in mind- Untreated substance abuse disorders can be harmful to your health and even fatal. If you think you or your loved one may have a substance use disorder or addiction, see a doctor or therapist to determine the best course of treatment.
When to seek emergency treatment
Here are the signs and symptoms would warrant a trip to the emergency room immediately:
- changes in consciousness
- trouble breathing
- seizures or convulsions
- signs of a possible heart attack, such as chest pain or pressure
- any other troublesome physical or psychological reaction to use of the drug
If anything listed is cause for concern, call 911 or go to your local emergency room immediately.
About Laura Geftman, LCSW
Laura Geftman, LCSW is the Founder of The Calm, Cool & Collected and a practicing therapist. Beyond all things cannabis and mental health, Laura is passionate about developing greater understanding for kindness and acceptance. In her free time, Laura can be found on her yoga mat, in a kayak or singing karaoke.