Recognizing an addiction in yourself can be hard. Many who struggle with addiction are in denial about the impact it has on their physical, mental, and emotional health. When you abuse drugs or alcohol, it changes the way your brain works, and it can make it difficult to see through the fog it creates. Often, the hardest step in recovery is coming to terms with the reality of your situation, admitting there is a problem, and taking the steps towards making a change. But once you have recognized there is a growing issue that must be addressed, you may question if you have the ability to make the changes necessary to stop. It requires a complete overhaul in how you think, live, and approach difficult situations. Fortunately, in the face of all the changes that must be made, there are ample resources to help you take back control of your life and work towards achieving sobriety.
Beginning to Address Your Addiction
While in many situations a person may be able to identify negative behaviors and make changes to stop, when an addiction is present, it can feel easier to make excuses and justify your behavior. Recognizing the signs of addiction and assessing them honestly against your own behaviors can help you realize the seriousness of the situation. In general, those who struggle with addiction may exhibit the following signs and symptoms:
- A lack of control or inability to stop using
- Ignoring risk factors and engaging in risky behavior despite knowing the consequences
- Abandoning other interests, relationships, and activities in favor of substance abuse
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms or increased tolerance
In general, these symptoms are linked to one another and the degree of intensity of them can often be directly linked to how long the addiction has been present. Even when people are aware of these signs and how they negatively impact their life, it is normal for those with an addiction to struggle with the thought of stopping. Making changes to enable sobriety requires a person to reassess nearly every aspect of their life. This includes:
- How you cope with stress and difficult situations
- How you interact with others and who you spend your time with
- What you do in your free time
- How you view yourself
The thought of starting to change can be overwhelming and you may not know where to start. Instead of tackling everything head-on at once, you can start changing your mindset by reflecting openly and honestly on your current behaviors. Some things that can help you come to terms with the need for change include:
- Keep track of how often you use and how much you use to better understand the role addiction plays in your life
- Consider what is important to you including your relationships, your health, your employment and other aspects of your everyday life
- Identify the pros and cons of stopping substance abuse and how it will impact you in the future
- Talk to a trusted loved one about how they see substance abuse affecting you
- Identify what roadblocks or pitfalls you see preventing you from making changes
When You Are Ready for Change
Once you are ready to start the recovery process, finding the right treatment for you is the next step. There are a plethora of options available and identifying the right path to follow can seem like a daunting task. Treatment can vary depending on your individual circumstances including what you use, how long you have been using, and the level of care you need to successfully achieve sobriety.
For most, detox is the first place to begin recovery. Removing the effects of mind and mood-altering substances can help provide you with the clarity to continue down the path of treatment. Detoxing without the assistance of medical professionals can be dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms can range in severity and many people are at an increased risk of relapse to stop experiencing the symptoms. For this reason, a medically-supervised detox is advisable because it provides a safe place to get through withdrawal symptoms as safely and comfortably as possible.
Upon completing detox, transitioning immediately into a treatment program can keep you on track and allow you to capitalize on the progress already made. While there are a variety of treatment options, inpatient treatment tends to produce the best results because it removes a person from enabling environments and separates them from substance-abusing peers, so they are able to focus exclusively on their recovery. Treatment can include a variety of elements to address the individual physical, mental, and emotional needs of a person. This includes any combination of behavioral therapies, medication, and counseling to equip a person with the skills and tools necessary to manage sobriety independently.
Treatment for addiction can last anywhere from a couple of months to well over a year. For this reason, it is important to not compare your journey and achievements to anyone else. Instead, remember why you are committing to your recovery. Managing sobriety is a life-long commitment and there will inevitably be ups and downs throughout your journey. Creating goals, setting milestones, and finding tangible ways to assess your progress can help encourage you along the way. Recovery is different for everyone and not all treatment options will work as effectively as others. Regardless of which path you choose to follow, remembering that you have ample resources available to you and ways to find support can help make recovery easier to manage.