When you first started using, you were probably relieved to find something that eased your pain. Whatever the drug of choice, you thought you found a way out of the nightmare you were living. You lived in so much pain and depression, and when you started using, you thought you were powerful, energized and born again. You felt new.
Soon, though, you got stuck. Your nightmares got worse. You got even more depressed. Your family and real friends began to drift away from you (or maybe it was you drifting away from them). You could no longer function at work, and your personal relationships suffered. You depended on drugs as if your life depended on it.
And now, your life depends on getting away from those drugs.
And you are terrified.
Admitting you need help
This is very common. It takes a lot of courage to admit that you have a drug abuse problem. Most people in recovery will share with you that the first step is admitting you have a problem; the next step is admitting you need help. Without these two things, you won’t be able to move forward and heal your life.
It’s hardest in the beginning. There may be a part of you that feels like a coward for asking for help. You might feel embarrassed or ashamed to admit that you have a serious problem. You might have a voice in your head that says, “You can do this by yourself! You don’t need anyone!”
But the truth is that no one can recover from addiction alone. You might have gotten to this point by yourself, but you can’t be by yourself when you’re trying to get out. You’ll need to open all the doors you closed and humbly ask for help – from friends, family and mental health professionals. With a supportive group behind you, recovery is very possible.
You are not alone
Many people around the country – and around the world – suffer from substance abuse. Here are some facts:
- In 2014, approximately 21.5 million Americans over the age of 12 suffered from substance abuse
- In the same year, about 8 million Americas suffered both substance abuse and a mental health disorder at the same time
- On average, one out of every eight people suffer from drug abuse and alcohol abuse simultaneously
- The World Health Organization reports that drug and alcohol abuse affects 5.4 percent of the entire global population
- About 50% of addiction is considered to be passed down from generation to generation
You will come across reports that recovery from drug addiction often involves at least one relapse, with many addicts sliding back into addiction several times. Many will enter addiction programs, only to come out and become addicted again.
Don’t let the statistics scare you. Addiction is no different than any other illness that affects the body and the mind. Even if the chances are that your recovery won’t be perfect, if you follow your personal program and do your best not to stray from it, your chances of success are high.
What needs to change?
To create, build and execute sustainable recovery from drug abuse, many things have to change. There are a lot of things you can do to support yourself in your own recovery, so that you set yourself up for the best possible outcome and the greatest chances of success. When you take the steps toward healing, you’ll free yourself from the mental, emotional and physical stresses of addiction.
1. Make recovery a priority
Just as you made drugs a priority, putting them first before your job or family, it’s now time to make recovery and healing the most important part of your life. Attend detox programs. Register in a rehabilitation center. Stop making excuses why you can’t go to meetings or therapy sessions. Look at every thought, behavior and decision as if your life depended on it.
2. Seek professional help
Find a therapist or facility that is well known and respected for its addiction programs. A mental health professional will help you take the first steps toward recovery, and will also help hold you accountable throughout your journey. Sometimes, when talking to friends or family, things can get emotional and heated, so a professional you trust, someone you can turn to that won’t judge or scold you, is a powerful ally for you.
You can also find a local Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) group. Here, you’ll find groups of people just like you who are committed to recovery, and who know that recovery is a necessity and a full lifestyle change.
3. Examine your surroundings and make changes where necessary
You may hear this often: Change people, places and things. In order for you to recover, you’ll need to change the people you befriended in addiction, avoid the places you went, and throw away the things that remind you of your previous behavior.
However, you have to be honest with yourself. Don’t place blame on your surroundings. Don’t make excuses that you started using again because you saw someone else do it. Just because you are not hanging around the same neighborhoods doesn’t mean you’re no longer at risk. If your current living situation, or your job, or your group of friends support recovery, stay right where you are. If you’ve made changes and those changes are putting you at risk again, perhaps then another change is in the cards.
4. Get up and do something
In addiction, your hobby was getting high. Now that you’re in recovery, you have an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and find something new and fun to do. You might want to join a gym, take yoga, learn a new language, or attend church. When taking up a new hobby, you’ll improve yourself in body, mind and spirit. Your new hobby will promote your growth and recovery, and you’ll have a great time doing it.
5. Be honest
When you were in addiction, you likely spent a lot of time lying. The biggest and most difficult thing to do in recovery is being honest. If you are feeling tempted, depressed, anxious, scared or lonely, tell someone. Share your fears with your therapist or trusted friend. It’s okay to have negative feelings, and it’s normal to have weaknesses. If you are struggling with self-doubt and worries, and you’re not leaning on anyone for support, you’re putting yourself at risk for relapse.
What happens next?
One thing is for sure: you can’t go back to your old way of life. You will have many adjustments to make, some really tough and scary.
Your transformation starts when you find the courage to admit you need help. And what a transformation it will be!
In recovery, you’ll likely eat better. Even if your body will require some adjusting to a new diet in the beginning (you either ate more or less in addiction), you can take the opportunity now to create a nutritious, satisfying diet, filling your body with healthy foods. This is now also a time you can count on exercise to give you a natural rush, instead of depending on drugs! With the right diet and exercise plan, you’ll notice an improvement in your appearance, including your weight, skin and hair.
You’ll also notice your attitude changing. Part of recovery is learning to forgive, and that includes forgiving yourself. Even though you have to say goodbye to old friendships, those that might have been toxic and dangerous for you, you’ll now be able to make new friendships and rebuild others that might have gone by the wayside when you were in active addiction. Through family therapy, you can break down the walls that might have gone up when you were in addiction and figure out what the issues were that might have led you down that dark path. Your commitment to recovery will help bring everyone together, and you can discuss as a unit what you all can do for a better and brighter future.
It’s not easy, but it can be done
No one is promising you that things will be easy. It takes a lot of courage to redesign your life. You’ll have plenty of obstacles and challenges that might get in your way.
But when you take that step toward recovery, you’ll begin to let go of negative thoughts and behaviors. You’ll raise your self-esteem and you’ll reconnect with who you really are, free of drugs and anxiety. You’ll learn to love and trust yourself, taking control of your life. Before you know it, one day in recovery becomes two, and two becomes three, and so on.
For guidance and information on seeking treatment, contact us today.