When you struggle with addiction, living a sober life can seem like an impossible goal. However, no matter how hopeless you think your situation is, recovery is never out of reach. It is possible when you address the root of the addiction and when you are provided with the right support and treatment.
You may have tried it and failed in the past, but don’t give up. The road to recovery is full of pitfalls, setbacks and bumps. We can tell you first hand that it is not easy for anyone who has been on that path.
According to a report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 75% of high school students have used alcohol and 20% of them are already addicted. 90% of Americans who are already addicted to drugs, tobacco and alcohol started before the age of 18. While these figures are alarming, the number of addicted people continues to increase.
The Centers for Diseases Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that approximately 15% of Americans have substance disorder that involves nicotine, illicit drugs and alcohol.
Make a Decision
What is your addiction? Whether you are fighting addiction to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex, lying, gambling or just about anything, the first step is always admitting that the addiction has become a problem. Once you have done that, you can start seeking help and preparing yourself for the obstacles that you are about to encounter.
Decide to make a change in your life. Even if you know for a fact that the addiction is causing problems in your life, it is normal to feel conflicted about it. You may wonder if you are ready for change and if you have what it takes to totally get rid of your addiction. It’s okay to feel torn at first as you try to figure out your next step. Recovery is a long process that requires time, motivation, support and commitment.
- Think about how your addiction has affected you mentally. Are you embarrassed about it? Are you experiencing anxiety, depression and other emotional/mental issues? Then it is time to overcome addiction. Did you know that according to National Institutes of Health, chronic use of drugs can cause changes in the brain that lead to paranoia, aggression, hallucinations and depression. You might have been going through all these for some time.
- Perhaps the addiction has taken a noticeably physical toll in you. You might have lost weight and your skin looks dark and unhealthy. It is time to seek for help and fight your addiction.
- Has your addiction affected your relationships with people who are important to you? Has it prevented you from spending valuable time with people you love, or pursuing a relationship with someone you like? Re-establish relationships and reconnect with people you love by starting to live in sobriety.
- List down the amount of spending you do just to feed your addiction. Think about how it has affected your financial status.
Explore Your Treatment Options
Once you have made your decision, you may start exploring your choices. As you do this, it is important to keep these things in mind:
- There is no single treatment that works for everyone. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that what has worked for some may not work for some others. Everyone’s needs are different. Addiction treatment must be customized according to the unique situations and problems of individuals. Most of all, you must be able to find a program that feels right for you.
- Choose a treatment that addresses not just your drug abuse. Sober living houses and rehabilitation centers understand that addiction affects your whole life. This includes your relationships, physical health, career and psychological well-being. The success of a treatment largely depends on where you turn for help. Although not everyone needs a medically supervised stint in the rehab, it is undeniable that sober living houses and rehab centers can help people live a sober life.
Monitor Triggers and Cravings
While being sober is the first step to recovery, you must understand that it is only a first step, or the beginning of the entire process. Once you are sober, you will need time to rebuild connections. It is during this time that drug cravings can be intense. Make a conscious effort to avoid certain people, situations and places that may trigger any urge.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism advises addicts to avoid bars and clubs and take a break from addict friends and family. Do not surround yourself with people who tempt you to slip back into your addictive habits.
Get involved in activities that are worthwhile. Go to a movie with friends, read a good book and exercise. Get yourself interested in things that make you productive. Once you do this, the urges will go away. Pick a new hobby, adopt a pet, get involved in the community you are in, look after your health and set meaningful goals in your career, your family life, your social life or your love life.
Keep stress levels down. Get enough sleep and maintain a healthy eating habit. When you feel good about yourself, drugs become less tempting. The healthier and happier you get, the easier it is to stay sober.
Do Not Let Relapse Discourage You
Relapse is totally normal. It is a part of many people’s journey towards drug addiction. While it can be discouraging and frustrating, it is an opportunity for you to correct your mistakes and learn from them.
So, what causes relapse? Although there are various triggers that increase the risk of relapsing into old habits, some of the most common ones, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, include the following:
- Sadness, trauma, anger and other negative emotional stress
- Positive emotional state such as the desire to feel better than you already do
- Physical discomfort
- Curiosity and testing of personal control
- Strong urges, temptations and cravings
- Conflict with friends, family and even strangers
- Social pressures
Whatever caused you to relapse in the past, know that it doesn’t always mean failure. Instead of giving up and going back to your old ways, get back up as quickly as you can. Talk to your therapist, schedule an appointment with your doctor, or discuss issues with your family.