Make no mistake about it... recovery can be challenging.
You know what else can be challenging? Being a junkie. Being a heroin addict is very challenging.
My biggest fear when getting sober was that I wasn't going to have fun anymore. I know that sounds stupid, but it's true. Cops didn't scare me any more. Being broke didn't scare me any more, I was pretty good at living at the poverty line.
I was so afraid that I would never have fun. I didn't know how to relax without drugs and alcohol. I didn't know how to be myself because I was always so afraid of what other people were thinking about me. I was imprisoned by walls of insecurity. I couldn't break free so I would use more, I would drink more, I would do whatever I had to do to take that feeling away.
Cocaine and prescription drugs and Southern Comfort became my coping mechanism. Round and round and round I went.
Addiction is very unforgiving. If it has you, you're stuck and you're not going anywhere. In my experience it is very hard to get sober without help. I'm sure there are people out there who have been able to "kick the habit" on their own. Good for them... I was not one of those people. I needed a medical detox. I needed 28 days in treatment. I needed to be supervised and I needed to sit through long extensive group therapy sessions. I needed every second of it because I was very sick.
Eventually, I got to a point where I had just had enough and I didn't want to live that way anymore.
It was all worth it. I find it difficult to explain the freedom that my recovery has given me. At this point, I wouldn't drink even if I could. The gains from living a clean life outweigh any of the joys a few beers used to give me. A few quick reasons why:
- I don't waste money on drugs and alcohol.
- I am very healthy and I rarely get sick.
- I don't wake up hungover.
- I get to do all the things I love because I don't waste my time and money on things that don't make me a better person.
- I have this group of people that have my back no matter what.
I only list these things because it was important for me to come to grips with this kind of lifestyle. Before I got sober I LOVED chaos, I loved being out till 5 am, I loved bar fights andI loved laughing about the trouble I got into. It was always such a rush for me. Until one day it wasn't a rush anymore. One day it wasn't fun and that is when I knew I was ready to get help.
Here is the honest truth - unless you get help, you have very little chance of finding recovery. Unless you dive head first into recovery, chances are you will relapse. You need to give your recovery everything you can. If you are an addict like I am an addict, it is only a matter of time until you are right back where you were.
The truth is it will get worse. They say addiction is progressive because it always gets worse. If you are lucky the day will come where you feel so much pain that you are able to say to yourself "I will do whatever it takes to get clean and sober."
When that day comes, you will be on your way.
When that day comes, we will always be here to help you. Call us 24/7 - 866-317-7050.
Every day I am learning new things about myself and learning what it means to be in recovery. I can only offer advice based on my own experience and I have come up with a few big concepts to work on in order to get your life together and to continue to grow.
1 - Commitment
If you a ready to do the deal, the first issue you need to tackle is commitment. You have to be completely dedicated and committed to getting sober. It’s normal to have doubts, but you must commit. It's a marathon - not a sprint and in my experience the people that stay committed one day at a time are the ones who make it. When we start living in the past or the future and not in the present, is where we lose our resolve. Take it a day at a time.
2 - Create a Treatment Plan
It’s important to have some kind of a treatment plan in place - like a “roadmap to recovery.” If you don't have a plan, it will be easy to get lost along the way. Your treatment plan doesn't have to be professionally designed, but sometimes it helps more if it is. At the very least, decide what type of treatment you want to get and in what order. Will you go to detox? Rehab? Counseling? Twelve-step meetings? Outpatient therapy? Put it in writing.
Talking to your friends and family about your plan is a good idea. Committing to a plan and letting other people know what your plan is will help keep you accountable.
3 - Build a Support System
Getting sober isn't something you should do alone. A strong support system can make all the difference. Make sure at least some of your friends and family know about your plan to get sober and ask them for their support. Your support system can also include counselors, group members and doctors.
Some people don't always have support from their family. This doesn't need to stop you. You can form a family in the rooms of a 12 step fellowship. Some of the strongest relationships I have ever had have been built from the rooms.
4 - Learning to Deal with Cravings
It’s common to have cravings in recovery and an important issue you need to address is how you will tackle your cravings.
Dealing with cravings isn't something that happens over night. In the beginning it is very important to tell your supports when you are having a craving. The craving will eventually pass. Over time you will learn other coping mechanisms and the cravings will be few and far between. I recommended finding something else to replace the craving for drugs and alcohol. Take up reading, or exercising. Most importantly, helping other people will remove cravings because you will not be thinking about yourself. This whole idea is what the 12 step programs are built around. Helping another alcoholic is key!
5 - Deal with People, Places, and Things
In recovery, you’ll hear a lot about “people, places, and things.” This refers to associations of when you were using. How long would you be able to hang out at a bar with your drinking buddies without having a drink? Maybe you won't have a problem with it, but it is still something to be aware of.
There is no rule book that says you must avoid your old friends or move to another city to stay clean. However, take it from me... people places and things are a big deal.
6 - Build Your Self Confidence
One of the hardest issues to address in order to get sober is your own self-confidence. Many addicts are afraid of sobriety because they lack confidence in themselves and think they’ll fail. To stay sober, you’ll need to find things to love about yourself. You also need a sense of purpose and the confidence that you can live a positive, healthy life that means something.
Over time, your confidence will return. There may be times when you are feeling down on yourself and that's ok. The best advice I heard on this is "if you wan't self esteem, do esteem-able things."
Realizing the Truth About Addiction
Most people don't want to hear it. Most people say "I can stop any time I want." Maybe you can, but if you are like me, you can't.
Eventually you will bottom out, guaranteed. You and only you will know if you are at the point where you are ready. When the fear of change is less then the fear of staying the same.
Addicts in active addiction always end up the same. You either die, you go to jail or you become institutionalized. Every once in a while we see those anomalies that manage to live their entire lives in misery. I feel like that would be the worst of all.
If you are struggling you need to reach out. You can either learn the easy way or the hard way, but eventually everything will crash down. It's like gravity.
I don't want to come across as if I am writing for shock value, or trying to scare people. This is the world we live in. Addiction is cruel and cunning and greedy and deadly. Sometimes people just need to be told.
"If you don't stop drinking and using - you will die."
If you want to live, reach out. If you want to enjoy life and be free and serene, then reach out. There is no use to be prideful. I have been there before and I know how it feels to be beaten down and useless. It is okay. We will help you.
If you are serious about getting help... Call us! Will will always be here to help you.