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How to Use Addiction Regret to Make Better Decisions in Recovery

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” As Abraham Lincoln said, it’s what we make of our situation than the situation itself. So how can we use the regret that comes along with addiction and turn it into something positive for the future?

Many people get trapped in their “cycle of negative thinking” and get pulled back into their addiction from it. For example, picture these situations:

  • Frank’s drug use caused him to get fired from his job, and it left him with depression. This resulted in a cycle of continued drug use and he felt as if his life would never get better. He decided to make some changes in his life. Two years later and looking back on his experience, he begins to feel the same depressed feelings about his situation. Once again, he gets drawn back into his addiction.
  • When Grace was suffering from her addiction, she began fighting with her family members. She didn’t speak to her mom and she ruined her relationship with her father. Now, one year later, she is sober and wants to change her lifestyle. Although she wants to make positive changes, she keeps experiencing deep remorse and depression from remembering what she put her family through in the past. She begins to pull herself further from her family and gets pulled back into where she started.

Frank and Grace keep getting pulled back into their addictions because of their deep regret about their pasts. If you are stuck in this cycle, you have two options: will you fall back into the trap, or will you persevere and come out a better person?

Regret is natural, especially for situations dealing with addiction. Although regret is a normal part of overcoming an obstacle, you can either pick yourself up or fall back into the trap. Embrace the choices you’ve made in the past, and realize that there is hope for a better future.

Frank and Grace should have ACCEPTED their past instead of feeling remorse and sadness. Look at how the acceptance of their situations changed their lives:

  • Two years out of his addiction, Frank became clean. He stayed away from all possible triggers, started going to some therapy, and changed his lifestyle habits. He is close with his supportive family. Most of all, he accepted the past; he knows what he has done, accepts it, and has moved on to be a better person. He hopes to help others suffering from addiction.
  • Instead of pulling herself away from her family, Grace decided to make amends with each of them. She starts spending more time at the house and talking to each family member. She recognizes their feelings and there is now a mutual understanding of what happened in the past and what is hoped to happen in the future. Grace’s family now is supportive of her recovery process and wants to help her succeed.

It is important to do two things: “anticipate regret” and “act differently.” By anticipating regret and figuring out what causes those feelings, we can change our actions to help our mental state. By acting differently, we can choose not to make the same choices in the future that affect us negatively.

YOU have the power to control your life. Even if you may have had negative situations in the past with addiction, you can take what you have learned from them and move on. You may even be able to help someone else.