How to Heal an Addiction

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My name is Gabby and I’m a recovering addict.

I hit bottom at age 25. At the time I was running a PR business in New York City, representing nightclubs and restaurants. I thought I had it all: the big career, the fancy clothes, access to the hottest clubs.

My life looked exciting, but I was falling apart

But no matter how exciting my life looked on the outside, on the inside I was emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. In retrospect I can see that I was having an existential crisis. I was looking for God in all the wrong places. This search for peace, safety and happiness became addictive. I was addicted to work, love, drugs, food, you name it. My addictive behavior took over my life and in time I had a severe drug problem, workaholism and debilitating codependency.

My spiritual surrender

I intuitively knew there was much, much more, but I struggled to clean up my act. Then on October 2, 2005, I prayed for a solution. I said, “God, Universe, whoever is out there, I need a miracle.” I woke up that morning and I heard an inner voice say, “Get clean and you’ll live a life beyond your wildest dreams.” Thankfully, that day I was willing to hear this inner voice. Thankfully, I listened. Since that day, I’ve been sober — and on a steadfast journey inward.

Helping others live a miraculous life

My sobriety and spiritual practice has become the most important part of my life, and I am committed to growing my faith each day. I owe all of my career, love, health, happiness and success to my sober recovery. My prophecy is true. I am living a life beyond my wildest dreams.

Today I am a motivational speaker and self-help book author, committed to guiding people through their spiritual bottom back to the light and magnificence within. Throughout my career I have heard countless stories from people who have gotten sober with the help of my personal story, which I tell in my book Spirit Junkie. I am deeply moved by these people and their commitment to stay clean and embrace the miracle of recovery.

Just last week I got an Instagram message from a 19-year-old woman who said she was trying to get clean and wanted my advice. I emailed her instantly. I heard her call and I carried the message to another addict in need. I shared my experience and offered guidance. In the midst of our back-and-forth emails, I realized it was time for me to share even more about my recovery. It was time for me to blog about it, to share my steps to recovery from addiction.

These steps are for any type of addiction

So here we are. In this blog I will outline the steps I have taken to live a life of sobriety. These tools are not just for alcoholics or drug addicts. These steps are for everyone. I believe that we all suffer from addiction in our own unique ways. Maybe you’re addicted to social media, or food, or love, or maybe you’re simply addicted to fear. It doesn’t matter how addiction plays a role in your life. What matters is that you learn there is a way out of the cycle.

How to break an addiction

Step 1: You gotta want it

Your willingness is crucial in getting sober. When you become willing to choose to get clean, you open an invisible door and all the resources you need will be given to you. Your willingness opens that door. If you’re reading this blog right now, then you have the slightest willingness to know more. Continue to strengthen this willingness daily by reciting this affirmation: “I am willing to change and I welcome guidance and support.” This simple statement will put your recovery in motion.

Step 2: Turn inward

Addiction stems from searching outside yourself for what you already have within yourself. That’s the sneaky thing about it. You can look far and wide for happiness, but as long as you’re looking outside rather than toward your own inner wisdom you’ll always fall short.

The key to recovering from addiction is to establish a deep inner awareness. You can call this intuition, a connection to the Universe, spirit, higher power or even God. It doesn’t matter what you call it. All that matters is that you choose to turn inward. The way we do that is through prayer and meditation. Through prayer we ask for guidance and through meditation we can hear it. Redirecting our search for peace from the outside in is the most crucial step to getting sober and staying on a path.

If the concept of prayer is bugging you out, don’t sweat it.

Prayer is the beginning of the most powerful conversation you’ll ever have. Tweet it!

When we say a prayer we’re setting an intention to turn inward for guidance. We’re surrendering our own ideas and welcoming wisdom from within.

The response to our prayers can come to us through meditation. In stillness we receive the guidance we’re longing for. If you’re new to meditation and eager to begin a practice, check out my Beginner’s Guide to Meditation.

You can also check out this video, in which I teach the Kundalini meditation for healing addiction.

Humbly surrender to a daily conversation with your intuition, and in time your inner wisdom will speak louder than your addiction.

Step 3: Find spiritual running buddies

Whenever I counsel folks who are newly sober, they complain that they have to let go of their old friendships and can no longer hang out in the same places. They’re not wrong. In the 12-step community it is often said, “If you don’t want to get a haircut, don’t hang out in the barbershop.”

People and places play a major role in your sustainable recovery. As you make spiritual shifts in your life, your energy will change. Your new, light, elevated energy may no longer be a match for the folks you used to hang with. That’s okay. You’re not better than them. You just chose to wake up.

Throughout my recovery I’ve made it a practice to cultivate strong, inspirational spiritual running buddies. Whether these folks are sober or not doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that they live in alignment with my spiritual and sober beliefs.

The way to create these friendships is to hang where the happy people are. Go to more yoga classes, hang out in juice bars, check out recovery meetings. Be around people on a spiritual path and in time you will create a power posse of spiritual running buddies.

What does it mean to live a life of sobriety?

One of my dearest spiritual running buddies is my best friend, Elisa Hallerman. My sober sister Elisa has been in recovery for well over a decade. She is a drug and alcohol counselor with a PhD in psychoanalysis and somatic studies. Today she runs a service called Recovery Management Agency, offering support to families and individuals seeking all types of guidance through their sober recovery.

In this video Elisa and I sit down and riff on what it means to be an addict and how to live a life of sobriety. Watch here.

Recovery 2.0 spiritual community

Another spiritual community that I LOVE is Recovery 2.0 run by my friend Tommy Rosen. Recovery2.0 is an incredible brand offering the world a life beyond addiction.

Check out this clip from Tommy’s interview with me about my sober recovery.

Finally, there is an awesome social networking site called intherooms.com. This site rocks. They offer beautiful guidance, blogs and a safe spiritual space for sober people to connect online.

Step 4: When you think you’ve surrendered, surrender more

when i think i've surrendered i surrender more | gabby bernstein card deckWhen people ask me how I’ve stayed sober for nearly 10, years my response is: Daily surrender. On October 2, 2005, I surrendered to a life of recovery. I’ve been surrendering every day since. As you practice step two and establish a spiritual relationship of your own understanding, you’ll come to know what it truly means to surrender your will to a power greater than yourself. This practice requires faith and trust that there is a spiritual plan for you and guidance working on your behalf at all times.

If you’re new to recovery you may be thinking, “WTF is this girl talking about? A power greater than me?!” That’s all good. This was my reaction when I first got clean. But trust me when I say that your spiritual faith will be your greatest tool for maintaining and sustaining a life of recovery. You don’t need to know how or when you’ll gain this faith. It will be bestowed upon you as long as you stay in constant dialogue with your inner wisdom.

The way I stay surrendered on a daily basis is through prayer. One prayer in particular has helped me stay humble and receptive. I recommend that you say it on a daily basis to remain willing to surrender to a power greater than yourself. This prayer is recited at the end of every 12-step meeting:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

These four tools are among many spiritual solutions on the path towards addiction recovery. I suggest you “keep it simple” and start here. To further guide you on your journey I’ve outlined a list of resources that will help you every step of the way. Finally, I welcome you to leave comments below and ask me anything about addiction. I’ve invited my friends Elisa and Tommy to show up on the blog this week too! So post anything here. I want this blog to be a safe space for people to reach out for help and receive the guidance that they need.

Resources for getting sober

gabby bernstein relaxing with a mug of teaIf you’re looking for a book on a spiritual path to addiction recovery check out Spirit Junkie: A Radical Road to Self-Love and Miracles. This is my memoir and a guidebook that I’m proud to say has helped many people get sober. Grab a copy here.

Check out some of my other blogs on healing addiction: The 5 Spiritual Tools I Use in My Sober Recovery, How to Get Sober and Change Your Life and How to Trust in the Healing Path.

Elisa Hallerman of Recovery Management Agency is your go-to resource for families or individuals seeking guidance on their recovery path.

InTheRooms.com is a beautiful social networking community for people in recovery.

If you’re interested in learning more about the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, Google AA alongside the name of your city, town or county. Listings will come up and all meetings will welcome you.

If you’re not sure you’re an addict and need further guidance, check out the book Living Sober.

Another beautiful book on recovery is by my friend Noah Levine. Check out Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction.

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