18 Aug Why Doing Something about Drug Addiction is Better than Giving Up
Maybe you’ve settled into a comfortable – okay, maybe it’s not so comfortable, but it is what you’ve set for yourself – routine: getting high, coming down, thinking about getting high again, searching out the drugs, and getting high again. This endless pattern of addictive behavior, taken to its ultimate conclusion, will result in three outcomes: incarceration, commitment to a mental institution, or death. You may not think getting clean is important or even a realistic possibility to you right now, but it’s time to wise up. Nothing will ever change until you take the first step. Here’s why it’s important to act.
Picture a Life Without Drug Dependence
If you’re addicted to drugs, it doesn’t really matter what the drug of choice is. You may have started off as a casual user, or tried snorting or injecting or freebasing or popping pills just to fit in, lose your troubles, lessen the pain, or as an act of rebellion. Maybe you didn’t even think much at all about it, but here you are now, firmly in the grip of addiction.
Think a minute about what your life is like now. Where has all the joy gone? Do you even remember the last time you truly experienced happiness – of the genuine kind – not the drug-induced euphoria you’ve come to depend on?
What’s happened to your family? Are you distanced or estranged from them as a result of your drug addiction? Do you lie, steal, create arguments, engage in physical or verbal abuse, and otherwise disrupt normal family life? Does the family dynamic now seem to revolve around your drug-using lifestyle? In other words, are family members worrying about, tiptoeing around, picking up the pieces, or trying to rescue you from the consequences of your drug addiction. Not only is your life being ruined, your addiction is wreaking serious havoc on the entire family.
Now, step back for a bit and try to picture a life without drug dependence. For now, don’t try to imagine that it’s your life. That may be too difficult to ponder. Think of someone you’ve always admired – a childhood friend, a teacher, favorite aunt or uncle, a prominent celebrity, even a neighbor. Visualize all the good things about that person, including their loving family, positive outlook, cheerful and easy-going demeanor, great job, and all the accoutrements of success (house, car, vacations, etc.). Don’t go overboard. Just think long and hard about what it truly means to be happy: with yourself, your family, friends, work, and life.
It kind of makes you feel depressed, doesn’t it? Why is that? As soon as you allow yourself to think about all the good things someone you admire has and how happy they are, you can’t help feeling miserable and depressed that you don’t have those things. Your life is nothing but a downhill slide, despite the lies you tell yourself and others.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
In your mental image of this other person, substitute your face, your body. You can blur the lines of the faces of the family and friends, since they belong to the other person and not you. Just imagine that those who surround you in this mental image are your loving family, friends, co-workers and others. That will suffice for this imaging exercise. Allow your mind to wander to the kinds of activities this new you can engage in. Think about vacationing in the mountains, at the beach, going on an adventure trek. Picture yourself being admired by others, asked for your opinion, respected for your
accomplishments, wisdom, and overall generosity of spirit. Soak in the feelings of goodness, wholesomeness, and happiness.
This person, this new you, is someone who is free of drug dependence. This new life, even the faintest glimmer of it, offers you something you may not have allowed yourself to dream about or long ago dismissed as impossible.
Now, file this positive image in your mental storage box of possibilities. You will be able to retrieve it anytime you want, or embellish it as new images come to mind. What you are doing is establishing a foundation for hope. And hope is something you need going forward. Without hope, there is no future. Without hope, there’s only the repeat of today’s drug-seeking and using lifestyle.
Giving Up Means Death – But Doing Something Means Life
There’s no escaping the fact that continued drug use causes your life to spiral downward. You’ve undoubtedly already seen that if your addiction is of a long duration. If you’re only recently addicted, you still recognize that you’ve begun to chalk up negative consequences as a result of your dependence.
• You may have lost your job, been demoted, lost a promotion or been passed over for choice assignments and perks at work.
• Finances become tight. Paying the bills becomes increasingly difficult and you find yourself tossing them aside and using the money to buy drugs instead.
• You constantly lie about your whereabouts, what you’ve been doing, and with whom. Your word no longer has any meaning, and family members and friends learn that you can’t be trusted.
• Your spouse or partner, and children (if you have any), start to turn away from you. After all, you’re not really present or concerned with their well-being or happiness. You’re only concerned about your next fix, getting high again, finding money to facilitate your addiction.
• DUIs, arrests for burglary, larceny, or other misdemeanors start to add up. You may be looking at some serious jail time for suspected felonies. Legal bills now add to the pile of financial woes you’ve already accumulated.
• Your physical and mental health suffers. Poor nutrition, inability to sleep, hallucinations or psychoses brought on by your non-stop drug use begin to seriously interfere with your overall health and your ability to function normally.
The list goes on. This brief summary has only just scratched the surface. In essence, when you continue your drug-seeking lifestyle, you are giving up. When you give up, life loses – and it’s not only your life, but the lives of all those who love and care about you as well.
Stop and think about the chance to reverse this downward trend. What would that look like? How would you do it? If you’ve ever wondered to yourself: Can I ditch drugs and get clean – you’re in the right spot. If you never allowed this thought to enter your mind before, but it’s starting to occur to you now – you’re in the right spot.
Your next step is to do something about it, to act on the idea. This doing something means you choose life. It’s an
important first step.
Enlist Support in Your Effort
The thought of doing something about your drug addiction is probably pretty frightening. It means giving up a lifestyle that you feel comfortable with (or comfortable enough that you don’t want to change it), and that can be pretty scary. You may have even tried to kick your habit cold turkey in the past. Most likely, you still remember how badly that went. As soon as the withdrawal symptoms kicked in, you rushed right back to using. At least, that felt normal. That felt okay. It wasn’t the nausea and vomiting, cold sweats, involuntary twitches and jerks, paranoia, racing heart, elevated temperature – the whole gamut of nasty symptoms of coming off drugs.
Okay, so you know that withdrawal is something you’ll have to go through – but would much rather not. How do you get past the uncomfortable and seemingly interminable withdrawal stage in your desire to get clean? The truth is, you can’t get clean until you get clean – figuratively and literally. You’ll need to go through detoxification. Don’t attempt to do this alone. Detoxification needs to be medically monitored on a 24-hour basis and is best done in a hospital or residential treatment facility that’s equipped to provide such services.
Still, don’t think too far ahead at this point. The best thing you can do for yourself right now is to enlist the support of your family. Tell them that you’re serious about wanting to get clean and ask for their help as you move to the next step in the process.
Asking for their support is more than just psychological. It may mean that they assist you with financial support (to pay for part of the cost of the treatment), or its family insurance coverage that picks up a major portion. It could be that one of your family members – your spouse, your parent, or older sibling – makes calls and lines up potential treatment facilities that fit within the parameters of your type of drug addiction and family ability to pay. Because addiction affects the entire family, the entire family should be involved in your treatment process.
No, they won’t be in treatment right along with you. But many residential treatment facilities do offer family treatment that coincides with your treatment. In family therapy, through individual and group counseling, educational lectures and readings, your family members learn how to better support you in your recovery efforts after you complete treatment. Recovery is an ongoing process. It takes more than just detoxification for you to learn how to live drug-free.
Accept Help and Get Treatment
Can you do something about drug addiction if you don’t have family support? You can, although it may be more difficult. You will need to have a strong support network. Fortunately, this is available to all who genuinely desire to be clean and sober through 12-step groups such as Narcotics Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, and so on. If there’s a drug of choice, there’s likely a 12-step group that’s been formed for members to help support each other’s recovery efforts.
Going to 12-step meetings will give you the support and encouragement you need from others who have been in your position and know what it’s like to be in early recovery. But 12-step groups are not treatment. They are an adjunct to treatment.
The only way to get clean is to accept help and get treatment. Don’t let lack of finances stand in the way of seeking treatment for your addiction. There are federal, state, and local programs that may pick up the tab or facilitate treatment in some way.
Search out addiction treatment facilities by going to the Treatment Facility Locator (http://dasis3.samhsa.gov/) that’s maintained by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) or call their toll-free treatment referral helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
In your search, find treatment facilities for drug and alcohol abuse and dependence that are in your state or city. Check out the services provided, including substance abuse treatment, detoxification, buprenorphine services. Check out types of care: outpatient, residential short-term (30 days or less), residential long-term (more than 30 days). See what special programs or groups they have (persons with substance abuse and co-occurring disorders, seniors, adolescents, women, men, criminal justice clients, etc.). Look into types of payment accepted – especially if the listing says “sliding fee scale” or “payment assistance” and check with the facility for details.
Once you find one or more treatment facilities that seem like they’ll work for you ask your family member or close friend to help you figure out the details. Narrow down your selection until you find the one that’s right for you. The next step is a huge one. Now, you need to enter treatment.
When you go into treatment, go for the right reasons. Go for the reason that you want to get clean and learn how to live a life that’s free of the yoke of drugs. If you go for any other reason, you may jeopardize your chances. Of course, you could be forced into treatment as the result of a court order or a family ultimatum. It’s important for you to know that treatment doesn’t have to be voluntary to be effective. You will learn something during treatment regardless of whether you go kicking and screaming and remain resistant throughout your stay.
Hopefully, you will enter treatment with the full acknowledgment that you have an addiction, need help to overcome it, and genuinely want to overcome it. You don’t need to know the exact path you’ll be taking in your journey. It’s different for everyone. You will have a personalized treatment plan that’s created to address your specific needs. Your progress will be monitored and reassessed at regular intervals and your treatment modified accordingly.
Treatment is also not mysterious. It’s not painful. It doesn’t last forever. It will occur in a safe and supportive environment that’s conducive to healing. After detoxification – and medical supervision means that you may be prescribed medication to minimize discomfort and to reduce or eliminate cravings – you will begin the active treatment phase. During active treatment, you learn all about the disease of addiction, how to identify and recognize triggers to using, what to do to cope with cravings and urges, how to change your behavior to avoid putting yourself in situations where stresses and triggers can derail sobriety, how to prevent relapse, and how to begin to create goals for your life in recovery.
Sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? But thousands of individuals successfully complete treatment and go on to effective and lasting recovery every month. Many have been intractable drug users for many years. Some have had multiple addictions, substance abuse and a mental health disorder, drug addicts with process addictions (compulsive gambling, sex, or work) – and they’ve been able to get clean and stay that way.
Is it easy? No, it is not. Will you be able to do it? You are just as able to do it as anyone else who has a genuine commitment to overcome addiction. Will you succeed the first time you go through treatment? This is a question that troubles many, since there’s no guarantee of success for everyone. For some individuals, treatment may need to be longer than 30 days, or they may need to go back into treatment. Others may feel a lack of confidence in their ability to maintain sobriety in the first 90 days of recovery. This is very common in the first three months of recovery. That’s why your support network of family and 12-step group is so important. It’s also why continuing care (if this is part of your overall treatment plan) and ongoing counseling and therapy following treatment is offered. Sometimes, you just need more time to practice the strategies and techniques you learned during treatment. Over the period of the first year, you will become more self-confident in your ability to live clean and sober.
Every Day Clean is Another Day Stronger
In the end, doing something about drug addiction is better than giving up for so many more reasons that make sense. Every day that you’re clean is another day that you become stronger. With clear-headedness and the ability to visualize the kind of future you want for yourself, armed with the tools to effectively ward off the occasional urges and cravings that come your way, your new life in sobriety will open up possibilities that you cannot today even begin to imagine.
What are you waiting for? Act now and let your journey of self-discovery and hope begin. This all begins with the first step. Take it now.
Find relief in recovery. Life gets better with addiction treatment.
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