Paul: There are a few people on this planet that understand a whole lot about how to overcome addictions, and I have one of the best to help me talk about overcoming addictions. Blu Robinson is the founder and director of Addict to Athlete. Just think about that title for a minute. I mean, that's awesome. It's kind of a let's erase this thing and replace it with something else.
Blu: Absolutely. That's kind of where we're going today, it's kind of our motto. In Addict to Athlete, when we first started, we knew that being aware of what cross addiction could bring. Meaning exercising too much, getting too involved in a sport or a hobby. Too much of anything can make you addicted, so to speak. We adopted the philosophy of a race and replace, which is crucial. If you erase something like the addiction, you must replace it with things of greater value. Meaning more than one. Plural.
Paul: Well, this has to do with expanding your repertoire so to speak. So, instead of being limited to whatever your addiction was in the past or replacing it with one other thing that now becomes your new addiction, you are going to expand that and add a variety of good wholesome productive things into your life that can replace that addictive pattern that was there to start with.
Blu: It is crucial, because there is so much opposition early in recovery or even identifying what the problem is, that being able to move away from the source or the situation that's causing the addiction, means you've got to start doing things that you never thought you would want to do. Let's say country line dancing or hanging out with people that may not have your same goals and interests in mind. All kinds of different varieties so that you're not typecast into that one paradigm that is addict. It's a crucial step.
Paul: I've got a lot of feelings about that Blu. I think it might be helpful to visit at least briefly what causes an addiction in the first place. And as a psychologist as I've looked at this, it feels to me like it's an attempt at mood management. It's all about how you feel.
Blu: It really is. It's why you use the substance or do the behavior that alters your mood. It is repeated and you begin to develop what's called a tolerance or maybe when it's removed, you start to feel it as withdrawal. Like when you have your cell phone in your hand all the time, and you forget it somewhere, you start to panic and get hot sweats. That might be an indicator that you might be addicted to something. But then also the longevity of it meaning like the tolerance level you begin to spend more time doing the substance or pursuing the high. All those things need to be erased and replaced with things of greater value in the map mindset of I need to eliminate this behavior, this feeling, this habit. A lot of times it's more difficult than most people think because it's so repetitive, it fills a void. It definitely makes you feel better when you are doing it, but when you are done, it gets worse.
Paul: What I've noticed about a lot of addictive behaviors or substances is that it gives the mood change. Now, that might be an elevated mood. It might be numbness., but it gives a change to the mood and it happens fairly quickly.
Blu: It doesn't last very long. The things that we are using or doing to try to change our mood artificially through an addiction can now be replaced by activities, hobbies, or interests. Things that elevate the mood that changed the mood, but it's not going to happen as quickly. It's more of a gradual, stable long-term kind of an approach. This is important. Because it is after all that mood and that habit forming kind of connection that makes things a little bit more concrete. And so, when you are doing those healthier things, especially with relationships, because those are key. Being able to race with others, it replaces the addiction and establishes firm, strong, sober, healthy relationships. Those are the things that can create longevity and sobriety. So, you're absolutely right, Dr. Paul.
Paul: Blu, you're talking about relationships now. And sometimes, we don't always hook that up in our mind that relationships have something very important to do with overcoming an addiction. Tell us more about the role of those relationships or what we can do about it.
Blu: Absolutely. So, their role in the relationships specifically in the erasing plays philosophy is that you erase old relationships, people that are keeping you gummed down.
Paul: Wait, we're going to erase relationships too?
Blu: We are going to erase the negative relationships.
Paul: Ugh! that's a hard one.
Blu: And you are going to replace them with more healthy relationships. Especially the ones that start falling into patterns that you're getting interested in things like new hobbies, new interests. Maybe someone that you trust. There's always someone in your family social network, your friend, or even you know just colleagues at work that'll have your best interest in mind if you reach out for help. It's about what team addict stands for. The reason why I think our team works so well is because of those relationships. To be accountable, to be able to replace all those down times with new experiences, so relationships are key in these things. And sometimes, you got to go outside of your family circle that can build relationships. And it's a little bit traumatic. It's kind of difficult at times. But when you stretch yourself out of your comfort zone, amazing things will happen.
Paul: In the addiction world, let me just see if this is true in your experience. A lot of times the relationships we form in the addiction area are not healthy anyway. But they simply are people who were going the same direction we were going. It’s about having that commonality. I've talked to a lot of people who say, “I can't give up my friends.” Be careful of how you define friends.
Blu: That is a huge key. Now, one funny thing about this topic with friends and relationships. I was getting my oil changed once and sitting there on the table where some magazines, 4-wheel-drive magazines, the good ones. On the back cover was a bunch of these vehicles that were in really bad situations. Up at their doors in mud, one was on fire, and one was like completely damaged on one side of it. Each one of the captions underneath read… “My friends and I thought my friends and I were thinking. I asked my friend if you could.” And then it ends up in this huge wreck burning car. So, I got thinking about the term friends and how important it is to understand what that term means. Sometimes friends that do not have your best interests in mind, get you to do and say and be part of things that really are going to be damaging in the long run.
Paul: There's some negative group think that happens. Sometimes people feel less badly about the poor choices they're making if they get to hang out with other people who are doing the same stupid stuff. Let's make sure that that's not the position you're in with your “friends.” I had another thought too, Blu, when you were talking about relationships and erase and replace. I'm just going to throw this out there. Potentially, you could erase a relationship and replace it with the same person.
Blu: Absolutely. There really are no bounds with this. Remember, what you're erasing is the negative parts of this relationship. You're moving higher up and instead of just erasing this person down there, you show them the path to bring them home to match you. We are not talking about completely walking away unless it's completely unhealthy. It's also being able to teach them the new things you're learning to bring them up to where you're at.
Paul: Right. Which is why it's so powerful. to have a community like what you're forming, Addict to Athlete.
Paul: And if there is not an Addict to Athlete in your particular location, it's still important to find a group of people who understand how to overcome addiction in ways that are healthy. If you know someone who could benefit from Addict to Athlete, would you please share this with them? And Blu, how can people find out more about your amazing program?
Blu: Best way to do that is through our website, addicttoathlete.org. All of our social media links, email, phone numbers are on there. Looking forward to chatting with you.
Paul: You can also find Blu at Liveonpurpose.coach.com, because he's one of our Live On Purpose certified coaches.
Click here to watch the full video with Blu on YouTube.