As anyone who has been through a battle with addiction can tell you, recovery is a hard road. It can take a long time to actually get over the shadow of addiction and there are more ways to fall back into the hole than to claw your way out of it. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that,
23.5 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009.
These statistics only reflect the handful of individuals who seek treatment for their addiction, but there are many more who decide to give in to the monkey on their back and forgo any treatment for their addiction. Here are a handful of drug recovery tips for those who have decided that they want to get better and are taking steps to do so.
Support Groups Are Important
Although you may shirk at the idea of having someone else help you, or depending on a support group, facing addiction isn’t a one-person job in most cases. Even small amounts of added support from a group can help. Kelly et al. found that,
Use of mutual-help groups following intensive outpatient SUD treatment appears to be beneficial for many different types of patients and even modest levels of participation may be helpful.
Addiction is such that an everyday decision must be made to avoid the addictive substances by the recovering person. When you have a peer support group or someone who you can call on when the urge arises, it is much easier to avoid the addictive substance. Since most of these people are fellow sufferers they can understand and identify with your struggle as they too have a struggle of their own.
Keep In Contact With a Treatment Center
It is very important that the sufferer keep a close link with a local treatment center where he or she can easily obtain treatment for the symptoms associated with withdrawal. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes that,
Relief of symptoms (e.g. agitation, sleep disturbance) may be achieved with symptomatic medication for the period of the withdrawal syndrome.
Proximity to a treatment center ensures that the sufferer doesn’t feel drawn into relapse because it was too difficult to obtain the medication they needed to combat or alleviate the withdrawal symptoms. Professionals in these centers are trained to help people overcome their addictive tendencies and return to society as a normal, contributing member.
Anxiety and Depression Should be Dealt With
One of the major causes of relapse to an addicted person are the feelings generated by severe depression and anxiety. Indeed, anxiety and depression are both linked to withdrawal symptoms of major drugs, and their continued presence is a testament to how deeply in the psyche addiction grips the habituated. Treating these disorders is one of the steps in combating the feelings of sadness and despair that withdrawal leads to. Anxiety can even cause other physiological problems such as heart attacks and palpitations, or can be responsible for extreme irritability. In many cases, the anxiety or depression had existed before the withdrawal and has simply been exacerbated by the removal of the drug. It has been found in many cases that the reason for taking the drug in the first place was as a means of escape from a life plagued by one of these two mental maladies.
Self-Acceptance Is Essential
Whilst in the grip of addiction, people do terrible things. Addiction triggers an evolutionary response that puts the thing the person is addicted to at the forefront of their minds and makes it their sole objective in accomplishing any task. In doing so it causes hurt and destruction to people around them as well as the deprecation of one’s self worth. Getting the thing the person is addicted to usually involves underhanded, morally wrong, and in some cases, illicit deeds. One of the major parts of getting better after addiction is learning to love yourself. Having a sense of self-worth is priceless in recovering from addiction. The hardest part is maintaining this feeling of self-worth in the face of many people who would be prejudiced against the addicted person due to their previous behavior.
Live in the Moment
The recovering addicts may find themselves caught in the grip of dwelling on the years they wasted while on the drug in question. Down that road lies depression. Focusing on a future that has been tainted because of addiction or reflecting on a past that is colored with the darkness of addictive behavior can lead to the individual having a hard time facing day to day life. Living one day at a time is one of the most effective ways to get over this dark cloud of negative feelings. Knowing that you are in the present and you are not under the shadow of an addiction anymore can make the world seem a lot brighter. Using meditation and deep breathing exercises can calm a recovering addict’s nerves enough to help them stabilize and return to the present.
Triggers are places or people that can lead to a relapse into the lifestyle of an addict. Recovering individuals should try to avoid these at all costs since it only takes the slightest of pushes to find oneself sliding down the slippery spiral that is addiction all over again. It is said that the second time around, recovery is even harder. Knowing how hard the first time was, many decide to forgo a second try and succumb to their addiction. Staying away from people and places that encourage addictive behavior is crucial in making sure that there is no chance of a relapse.
Addiction is a serious problem and overcoming it is a feat of human endurance comparable to scaling Everest. There are many things that can easily trip you up and throw you back into the darkness that is addiction, but luckily, there are simple and effective ways to combat these pitfalls. Always remember, when it comes to overcoming your addiction the most important thing is commitment to your cause. Without that, then the attempt will almost surely fail.