If you’re reading this, you’re part of the way there. What’s a few more steps? The road to sobriety begins with the concrete decision to get and stay sober – but it doesn’t end there. Like any lifelong commitment, the road of sobriety is endless. Getting sober in and of itself is simple in practice – don’t take drugs for anywhere from a few hours to a few days. But it’s in maintaining sobriety where things get tricky.
If your intention is to make an honest attempt at quitting drug use, you have to be ready for a long and hard road ahead. And, you have to be prepared to make a lot of changes. Paradoxically, addiction recovery isn’t about about getting sober – it’s about helping individuals with a past of addiction find ways to live a healthy, sober life, and enjoy that life. Often, years spent struggling with drug abuse can leave a very nasty set of emotional and psychological scars (and physical ones, as well).
It takes a multimodal approach to address this properly. That means not only focusing on the addiction but considering a patient holistically – taking into account their circumstances, history, risk factors, relationships, and personal challenges. Treating addiction means treating a person physically, mentally, and socially, helping them confront inner demons, reintegrate into society, and heal their bodies from years of abuse. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does start somewhere. Deciding to get started and informing yourself (through articles like this and countless other resources) is the first step. From there, it’s time for the next one.
Ask for Help
There are things a person must do on their own, and things they should do with others. Deciding to get better is something only you can do. Getting better is something you will need help with. Addiction recovery isn’t a perfect incline – there are ups and downs, valleys and mountains. Sometimes, you make progress, and sometimes you don’t. It can be frustrating, disheartening, and difficult.
We need friends and family in moments like that to remind us that what’s important is to keep on moving on, rather than getting hung up on mistakes or slowdowns. We need friends and family to keep us on the straight and narrow when we’re tempted to revert to old ways. We need friends and family to remind us that we’re abandoning a path we’ve committed ourselves to.
And, if you’re facing the challenge of recovering from an addiction, you need professional help as well. Addiction treatment has come a long way in the past few decades, finding ways to help patients from any manner of backgrounds find their right path towards maintaining sobriety, through different forms of therapy and treatment.
Treatment is Multifaceted
There is no one best way to treat an addiction. Sure, it always starts the same – but the specifics are highly dependent on each individual case. Take, for example, a teen struggling with depression, episodes of self-harm and suicidal ideation, and an addiction to benzos like Valium and Xanax. These issues feed into each other, and together they present a very complicated case wherein a patient struggles with several different issues, each deserving their own course of treatment. The best way to approach something like this is by considering it all in a single, multifaceted approach.
No one’s like is simple. Everything is complicated. Everyone faces unique circumstances, unique problems and challenges, and requires a unique treatment approach. Everyone has a different experience and that means different things. We can’t equate one person’s suffering with another, and we can’t equate one person’s treatment (or progress within said treatment) with another.
You won’t know how best to get better until you work with someone who has the experience to tell you what you’re going to have to do next. Even then, you may try different things before something feels and seems effective. Some people swear by their newfound passion – from a career path to marathon-running – as the reason they broke their addiction to heroin. Others attribute their recovery to family. Others are still struggling, years after. No matter what happens, the most important message is to keep on going.
Don’t Give Up
There is no failure in addiction recovery. Even relapses are little more than missteps and opportunities to learn from. When you relapse, it’s for a reason. Maybe you were slowly losing the motivation to stay committed to your sobriety. Maybe you need a different approach. Maybe you were triggered by a deeply disturbing series of events and need help to work through these events before you turn to drugs again.
Or maybe something else spurned the relapse, and you just need a sober living home and some time to work things through to the point where you’re more comfortable and confident with your sobriety and your ability to live life out in the normal world.
The only way to fail recovery is to give up altogether. So, don’t. No matter how bad things get, any pain and struggle will come to pass – and you’ll find yourself making more progress than ever before. Don’t give up, keep trying, and work with both professionals and your loved ones to forge ahead.
You’re Not Alone
Or at least, you never should be. Even without a family to call your own, there are countless sober groups dedicated to helping newcomer members feel like they’re part of something greater striving to be better. What matters is the feeling that you belong – that you’re accepted, and that you’re not intrinsically bad, but have the potential to make the best of yourself, no matter what once was.
It takes a lot of self-love to get to that point, as well as compassion and acceptance from others. Sober groups as well as friendships and families are meant to help you get to the point where you don’t just go through the motions to save your own life from addiction, but genuinely believe that you can live a successful and fulfilling sober life without ever needing drugs again, with the ability to rely on those closest to you when things get really hard and the urge becomes unbearable.
It all starts with the first step. From there, you just need to put one foot out in front of the other.