If You’re Ready to Get Sober, Read This
No one plans for their life to be marked by addiction. Nonetheless, USA Today reports that one in seven Americans will face a substance use disorder during their lifetime, and many will die from the disease.
If you're living with a substance abuse problem, it may feel hopeless, like you've lost too much and burned too many bridges to go back to your former life. However, no matter how bleak it seems, there's always hope for a better future after overcoming substance abuse.
The first step every person with an addiction must take is getting sober. After admitting you have a problem and need help, you need to make a plan for stopping drugs and alcohol. Depending on the substance used and the extent of the addiction, medically supervised detoxification may be necessary. Commonly recommended for alcohol, opiate and benzodiazepine addictions, a supervised detox allows a person to withdraw in a controlled environment under the care of medical professionals.
As the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics explains, detoxification alone doesn’t lead to recovery. Once your body is no longer under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the next step is maintaining sobriety. This happens through a series of long- and short-term goals, and many people need outside support to confront the emotional and social factors underpinning their addiction and stay sober. This support comes in a variety forms:
Inpatient and outpatient treatment programs.
- 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
- Medication-assisted treatment.
- Mental health treatment for co-occurring mental health issues.
- Recovery support groups, including online forums.
- Personal support networks including family, friends, and faith communities.
A person in recovery might use one or two of these support systems or they might use all six. There's no such thing as too much support in recovery. Rather, it's in secrecy and shame that addiction festers and recovery is undermined. By opening up that shame and asking for help, we allow ourselves to be seen and healed.
Damaged relationships make it much harder to ask for help from the people close to us. During active addiction, you may have said or done hurtful things or caused financial harm to family and friends. Even if you didn't directly harm loved ones, the emotional pain of observing your addiction may have caused family and friends to distance themselves.
If you have a spouse and children who were exposed to your addiction, your whole family unit will have suffered mental, physical, emotional and financial harm. Even when you try to hide an addiction from your family, they inevitably feel the impact of a parent and partner who uses family finances to buy substances, drives under the influence and experiences the emotional volatility that comes with substance abuse.
Repairing relationships after active addiction isn't easy, but it's often possible. Admitting to your wrongdoings is important, but changing your actions is the best way to show people you're worthy of a second chance. Stay clean, adopt healthy habits, find productive and pleasurable activities and show loved ones they're a priority in your life. However, recognize that not everyone will forgive you. If your amends are rejected, all you can do is accept it and keep moving forward in recovery.
These are only the first steps in recovering from a substance use disorder. Long-term sobriety requires daily effort. Every day you must choose to stay clean, follow healthy routines, strengthen your mental health, and build community with those who support you. For many addicts, the work never ends. However, the rewards of a healthier self, family, and community are always worth it.
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Article submitted by Adam Cook