Drug addiction and alcohol addiction are true diseases among us. Many people suffer from their clutches. In fact, even upstanding citizens who live normal lives struggle in secret with the painful effects of these conditions.
Alcoholics and addicts often try several avenues of escape and seek help often to no avail. Some try rehab but find the temptation to use too strong to overcome after being released from the program. The family support encourages them, but they still wrestle to break from the constant use of drugs and alcohol. The community support is available in many cases, but addicts still feel too overwhelmed to quit.
Maybe you can relate and have asked yourself how to be free. What are the key ingredients to the recipe of successful substance abuse treatment? Most of these 5 keys components may differ from conventional wisdom on overcoming addictions, but they are still essential aspects to successful abuse treatment.
- Your Desire to Quit Must Be Stronger Than Your Desire to Use
It’s probably easy for everyone around you to simply say “quit.” You may even desire to quit, but when the urge to use kicks in, suddenly you’re thrust back into the cycle of whether to drink or get high. And after promising yourself not to slip, you inevitably make the same mistake again. Then the guilt kicks in, and the cycle resumes. Before you know it, you’re drinking and using just like before.
Deep down inside you desire to stop but deeper inside is the desire to use. What must happen is that an intrinsic motivation from within you must consume you to the point that you want to stop using more than you want to continue.
And no one around you can make this happen for you. No one can give you the desire to quit regardless of how much they want you to get better. It must come from you. This is perhaps the most important key to obtaining freedom — you must cultivate a desire to quit that is stronger than your desire to use.
- Change Your Atmosphere
You could have all the help in the world from every doctor, friend, and loved one, but unless your atmosphere changes, your behavior never will. Drugs and alcohol are social. We associate them with certain friends, with particular places, and even with certain times. It is essential to change the atmosphere of your world in order to change the results you are getting.
The people you associate with while drinking or using will always trigger that desire in you as long as you are around them. It is therefore essential to revamp your social network. Furthermore, the places you go to drink or use will continue to trigger you every time. You must find new places to go where you can enjoy life in a new environment that does not urge you to use.
Additionally, you may be surprised to consider, there are probably particular times of the day you drink and/or use. Revamping your schedule is a key component to overcoming substance abuse. If you tend to drink after work, it is vital that you replace that time with something such as a hobby, family outings, or even a movie.
Changing who we spend our time with, where we spend that time, and what we do with time will greatly increase our chances of overcoming drug and alcohol addiction.
- Keep Going After a Mistake
One of the worst feelings for an addict is to go through withdrawal, make progress, and then to slip. The guilt is so overwhelming it makes you want to give up completely. But this is not the worst mistake. The bigger mistake would be to assume that one night’s slip makes all of your previous progress worthless. That is simply not the case.
It is essential that you learn to fall forward. In other words, see the slip as a learning experience, not as a complete mess up. To do this successfully, take the time to analyze some things about yourself that led to the slip. Where were you? Who were you with? What were you thinking? Feeling? If you can learn to see what led to the slip, you can equip yourself to avoid it in the future.
Let’s assume you’ve been sober for 3 months and messed up last night. Remember that a mistake one evening does not mean you have been using or drinking all this time. It means, in our example, that you successfully stayed clean for 90 days and slipped for one day.
That’s an amazing success record. Think about it. If a business made profits for 90 days in a row then lost profits one day, does that mean that the business is a failure? Of course not. And neither are you.
Learn from the mistake, but don’t let it destroy all the progress you’ve already made. Get up and keep moving forward!
- Think of What Will Happen If You Quit, Not What Won’t Happen If You Quit
Many substance abusers are tempted to motivate themselves to quit using or drinking by thinking about what will not happen if they quit. In other words, if I quit, I won’t lose my job, I won’t lose my kids, or I won’t go to jail.
That is what psychologists refer to as an avoidance goal — if I don’t do X then Y won’t happen. The problem with this type of motivation is that it is short-sighted and usually does not provide what is necessary to achieve long lasting results.
On the other hand, there is another type of goal psychologists refer to as an approach goal. This simply means if I do X then Y will happen. In other words, if I quit drinking, I could get promoted on my job, I could have a great relationship with my family, or I would be more confident about myself. It is a shift in thinking.
Instead of what won’t happen if you quit, focus on what will happen if you do, and your motivation to stop using will drastically increase.
- Celebrate Along the Way
One concept about sobriety worth considering is that it is a continual, ongoing victory. You never reach a moment that cannot be celebrated in your journey of recovery. After you’ve gone a week without using, you have been successfully sober for an entire week. But in three more weeks, you will have been successful for a month. Sixty days later, you will have achieved three months clean, and the process never stops.
The important thing is to think of sobriety not as a destination but as a journey and to celebrate the steps you take on that journey. Make a big deal after your first 24 hours clean. Treat yourself to something special. At noon the next day, celebrate once again that you’ve made it halfway through an entire day without using. The key is to celebrate progress and to do it frequently throughout the journey.
Overcoming substance abuse is not impossible. But if you are alive, it is because you have a purpose in life. And overcoming your struggle will bring you one step closer to that purpose.
So, don’t be afraid to try. Even if you mess up, continue on your journey. Search for a desire inside of your heart that wants to quit more than it wants to use. Change your atmosphere, think of the possibilities, and remember to always celebrate along the way.