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I love the Shakespeare quote that says, “All the world is a stage, and men and women merely players.”  That’s how I felt for a long time.  I felt like I was playing a role on the stage of life.  It was a role that was defined by my family, my culture, my country, my school, my friends, and – for a while – my religion.

When I was 11, I discovered that a shot of gin or vodka from the liquor cabinet would boost me into another realm of reality for a while to help me escape the dysfunction of my family.  It was a way for me to feel temporary relief from the constant chaos that permeated my environment.

My addictions progressed from booze, weed and speed through the 80s to coke and pills through the 90s. I was filling my water bottle with vodka most days, but I was still posing as a high-performance being, I had a career, a car, a house, and a husband.  It was the ideal scenario to keep me swimming in the river of denial for many years.  I may not have been destitute, but I was desperate.  I was dragging myself through life every day.

What helped me spiral downward very quickly was a move to Spain – where wine and brandy were cheaper than water!  I was mired in bureaucracy for the first 2 years and that was a perfect excuse for me to drink myself unconscious every day.

I spent a month in a rehab facility, attended 12-step meetings every week, and relapsed almost every year for the next 8 years.  I was also going to a lot of funerals for my peers who weren’t returning from their relapses, and I knew it was just a matter of time before I didn’t return from one of mine.

I went in search of a more secular (evidence-based) program and found SMART (Self-Management And Recovery Training), which is based on cognitive therapies.  These evidence-based tools have helped me remain free from addictions since 2018.

I use a variety of tools, techniques, and strategies to help me manage my feelings of anxiety and depression and keep the volume down on my inner critic.  These tools help me better manage the ups and downs of life, without the need for drugs.

I practice a few things every day to help me to be an expert surfer when riding the waves of life!  I call these 3 tools my “Triple A Formula for Freedom:”

  1. AWARENESS.  Once I became aware of the automatic negative thoughts (ANTs), I was better equipped to “Catch it, Check it, and Change it with cognitive tools.
  2. ATTENTION.  When I direct my attention to things that are within my control, I’m better able to drown out the negative narrative with more helpful thoughts that are comforting and motivating.
  3. ACCEPTANCE.  This is something I work on every day which inspired me to share some of my favourite tools to help you develop Unconditional Acceptance for yourself, others, and life. https://redroofrecovery.com/addiction-recovery-resources/.

About the Author:

Tanya MacIntyre is a Mental Health Professional, certified CBT Practitioner, and owner/operator of Red Roof Recovery.

DISCLAIMER: This content is not intended to constitute, or be a substitute for, medical diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard advice from your doctor, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have watched, read, or heard from anyone at Red Roof Recovery.