Making the decision to seek help for an addiction isn’t easy. It’s a huge first step in a journey that, unfortunately, some people take years to finish, if at all. Recovering from an addiction is extremely difficult, especially since many people develop addictions as a means to cope with the lasting effects of trauma. But if you’ve decided that enough is enough and you are ready to commit to a life of sobriety, then this article is for you. We will walk you through everything you can expect from entering a treatment program, the early stages of recovery, and how to stay strong once you start the process and be successful in achieving sobriety.
Admitting you have a problem
We all know that old adage “The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.” Well, it’s a common phrase because it’s true! The only way an individual with an addiction can be successful in their recovery journey is if they themselves have the desire to make a change. No amount of pleading or force from loved ones, doctors, or other external sources can make a person want to change if they are still in denial. This is arguably the most important step of the journey, as it is the biggest determining factor of your success in treatment.
If you have just come to the realization that you have a problem and want to change for the better, then congratulations! You’ve already conquered one of the most difficult obstacles standing in the way of you and sobriety. Now, it’s important to keep this energy up during the rest of your journey — don’t lose sight of your ultimate goal!
Ask for support from loved ones
Addiction can be one of the loneliest experiences one can face. The nature of the illness creates rifts between family, friends, and relationships. However, during recovery, having a support system to lean on is one of the biggest contributing factors to success (Boisvert, et. al). A strong support system greatly reduces your chances of relapsing. When you’ve made the decision to recover from your addiction, reach out to loved ones and ask for their support. While the choice to get and remain sober starts and ends with you, if you’ve only got yourself to answer to when it comes to staying sober, it’s going to be very difficult to stay on the path towards your goals. It really helps to have at least one person who you know is in your corner, rooting for you and depending on you to stay on track. Anyone from your family to your friends to your significant other to your peer support group can hold you accountable — the more the merrier. Through recovery, it’s important to become aware of the fact that your addiction doesn’t just affect you, it has a negative impact on everyone who loves and cares about you.
A strong group of supporters will always provide you with an extra boost of confidence or a pep talk when you need it most. When battling addiction, it’s easy to get caught in a dark thought spiral, so having people to help bring you back to reality is invaluable. Knowing that there is even one person other than yourself who you can lean on in times of trouble could be the difference between relapse and sobriety.
Detox is a fairly short, but often extremely uncomfortable stage in the process. This is essentially when you quit or wean off the substance of choice to clear it completely from your body. This will leave you with a clean slate to begin the much longer process of therapy and self-reflection. However, the withdrawal symptoms that occur during detox as a result of your body and brain attempting to return to a normal state can be very difficult to deal with. During detox, there is a likelihood that you could experience frightening and even life-threatening symptoms, such as seizures because your body is put under so much stress. You’ll probably experience aching, muscle cramps, and there is a good chance that you will feel extremely nauseous, among other things as you detox.
Aside from physical symptoms, there are many issues that can arise with your mental health during the detox process as well, and oftentimes these can be even more dangerous than the physical effects. It’s common for someone who is detoxing from drugs to become depressed, delirious, and even suffer from hallucinations. You can even become paranoid and lose your ability to think clearly. This can make it difficult to express yourself clearly and may also cause you to become very easily agitated.
Consider a treatment program
You may be having feelings of fear and uncertainty with the looming prospect of withdrawal symptoms you are bound to experience during the detox period. This is one of the many reasons that we strongly urge you to consider going through a certified treatment center.
When you go to a professional treatment facility to detox, you are given medications to help minimize the withdrawal symptoms. Your health is also monitored so that if any life-threatening issues arise, they can be dealt with in the appropriate ways to ensure you are as safe as you can be during the entire detox process.
There are also professional counselors at a treatment facility that you can talk to during your entire recovery process to guide you through the mental trials and tribulations you will encounter. They will help you manage your emotions and find a place of solace within your mind to escape to when things get rough. Being able to talk things out with a professional counselor will allow you to confront past trauma and start down a path of increased psychological wellbeing and awareness.
The staff at the treatment facility is well equipped to deal with all of the ugliness that comes with detox. They understand that it is a difficult time for you emotionally, and know exactly how to help guide you through this difficult time without taking things personally.
Get involved in therapy and peer support groups
Addiction runs much deeper than on a physical level. While it’s true that illicit substances can have an effect on the brain’s overall chemistry which plays a big role in a person becoming addicted, scientists have now discovered that it’s not the only cause. As we now know, substances aren’t the only things that cause addiction. It’s possible to become addicted to activities and repeated actions like shopping, gambling, pornography, etc, which create a shift in the chemical balance of the brain despite not introducing any outside chemicals to the body (Harvard Health Publishing). This shows that it’s not necessarily the chemicals within substances themselves that cause addiction, but rather the way the brain’s reward center is stimulated. Because of this, an essential part of recovery is tackling these mental blocks so that you may begin training your brain to no longer be dependent on the substance.
Therapy tackles the root cause of addiction, and what allows it to persist: uncomfortable feelings and emotions stemming from trauma. And because most people have yet to fully confront their emotions surrounding past experiences and trauma, they will never be able to completely heal without the guidance of a trained therapist.
Counseling does a number of things. It:
- Addresses flaws in thinking and teaches the person to productively modify them
- Helps the person combat negative thoughts and behaviors
- Provides coping methods and skills
Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and more are great ways to connect with others who are struggling with the same issues. Having support and guidance from your peers is a great supplement to individual therapy.
Recovering from addiction is a lifelong journey. But equipping yourself with knowledge before jumping into treatment can help ease fears and make the process go much smoother. We wish you the best of luck in your journey to lifelong sobriety.
Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.