When you drank alcohol, did you do it with a compulsion to get drunk and forget your life for a while? Or did you drink to have fun and get high on the buzz? Did you want to check out for a bit and avoid work and the family? Did you simply like the taste or the social buzz of being with friends who also drank?
It may be useful to find your Vital Absorbing Creative Interest (VACI) based on these details. It may be useful to replace that need for alcohol with a need for something creative and beneficial in your life. If you are creating another addiction, so be it, at least it is a healthy one. You can work on being less obsessive about it as you go along. The other side of the coin is that when we do become too obsessed with just one activity, it cuts out our enjoyment of other activities we could also be doing. Any addiction to any thing is not balanced, not so? Some people work too hard, some exercise too hard and some are obsessed with health foods and their health. Finding the balance in our lives is a life-long learning curve, just like parenting is.
What is a Vital Absorbing Creative Interest?
A Vital Absorbing Creative Interest, or VACI, can help bring back the simple pleasure of living a life free of substances and unhelpful behaviors. When we get overly involved in any one activity, be it helpful or not so helpful, we cut a lot out of our lives that we used to enjoy. Finding a balance can restore the fun and enjoyment that life has to offer. So how can we get back to those simple pleasures of life?
If you are one of those drinkers who drank to get a buzz, then you can still get a real buzz out of life. You have this in you, to seek out the fun and the highs. The sober buzz takes more effort and more imagination which in themselves are fulfilling. The more energy you put into things, the more you get out, not so? And this time around, you will remember it all, instead of experiencing uncomfortable blackouts and shameful memories of what you did and should not have done last night.
The trick is to find the things that give you a buzz, for the right reasons. Have you ever thought about sky diving or sailing in a hot air balloon over the Masai Mara? Have you ever thought about caving, ice climbing or river rafting? These are the things that create wonderful memories. Another way to look at it is to create something lasting in your daily life: hiking up mountains every morning; swimming 100 lengths before work; learning how to surf or scuba dive, learning how to mountain bike and ride a skateboard.
Work out what it is that gives you a regular buzz and act on it today.
Tip! Work to do your VACI in moderation so you’re not replacing one addiction with another!
Find Solitude if you Drank to Escape
If you were a drinker who hid away, checking out on life for a bit, then find things that suit your introverted personality. These would be things that restore your energy while being alone: sit on a mountain with a book, watch a river trickling past, be alone on an evening walk or go away to a secluded cabin for a few days with books and sketchbooks. Spend time in nature to rejuvenate your soul, away from the stresses of work and other people and their opinions and needs.
If it was taste that you were after, it is time to find new and exciting tastes. Make your own kombucha and cordials. Buy some funky herbal teas and make drinks with them that you can sip on ice. Buy some flavoured coffees and try some sugar-free hot chocolate. Spend your money on fun drinks instead of alcoholic drinks.
You may be one of those people who drank to fit in to social events and who feels lots of FOMO (fear of missing out)? In this case, challenge yourself to find out why you feel like this? What is it that you are not sure about within yourself? What is it that you are denying yourself? Why can’t you just arrive at a braai and be comfortable?
Challenge yourself to go out and meet others at sober gatherings that you choose: a new book club, a dance group, a yoga class, an evening card game, or a group that discusses the issues in life. Be you, be real. Eventually, you will get better at this, and you will realize that yes, everyone else is also nervous and feeling just like you are!
Another thing to look to when trying to find a new VACI is to think about what you used to like to do as a kid. What interests did you hold? What hobbies did you have? What dreams were never realized? Now is the time to take your life back and make some of those things happen.
Persevere and Form New, Good Habits
The best tip I can give you is to persevere until these VACIs are good habits and pure enjoyment. Be bold, be brave and believe in you. We all have choices in life and your choice is to face it and take it on! What if you don’t? That is something you don’t want to think about. Find your Vital Absorbing Creative Interests and keep looking for more.
Check out my previous blog about finding a hobby that delights and fulfills you. Remember, your recovery is all about you so seize the day with both hands and do the work to find the joy!