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Overcoming Drug Abuse
It takes courage and strength to face up to drug addiction. When you’re bogged down in drug abuse and drug addiction, sobriety can seem like an impossible goal. But recovery is never out of reach, no matter how hopeless your current situation seems.
Change is possible with the right treatment and support, and by making lifestyle changes that address the root cause of your addiction. Don’t give up, even if you’ve tried and failed before. There are many different roads to recovery, but almost all involve bumps, pitfalls, and setbacks. By examining the problem and thinking about making the necessary changes, you’re already on your way.
Drug addiction treatment and recovery step 1: Decide to make a change:
For many people struggling with addiction, the biggest and toughest step toward recovery is the very first one: deciding to make a change. It’s normal to feel conflicted about giving up your drug of choice, even when you realize it’s causing problems in your life. Change is never easy—and committing to sobriety involves changing many things, including:
You may wonder if you’re really ready for all that change or if you have what it takes to quit. It’s okay if you’re torn. Recovering from addiction is a long process, one that requires time, commitment, motivation, and support. As you contemplate your situation, the following tips can help you make the decision.
Thinking about change:
Preparing for change: 5 key steps to addiction recovery
Drug addiction treatment and recovery step 2: Explore your treatment options:
Once you’ve made the decision to challenge your drug addiction, it’s time to explore your treatment choices. As you consider the options, keep the following in mind:
As you seek help for drug addiction, it’s also important to get treatment for any other medical or psychological issues you’re experiencing.Your best chance of recovery is through integrated treatment for both the substance abuse problem and the mental health problem. This means getting combined mental health and addiction treatment from the same treatment provider or team.
Drug addiction treatment and recovery step 3: Reach out for support:
Don’t try to go it alone. Whatever treatment approach you choose, having a solid support system is essential. The more positive influences you have in your life, the better your chances for recovery. Recovering from drug addiction isn’t easy, but with people you can turn to for encouragement, guidance, and a listening ear, it’s a little less tough.
Drug addiction treatment and recovery step 4: Learn healthy ways to cope with stress:
Even once you’ve recovered from drug addiction, you’ll still have to face the problems that led to your drug problems in the first place. Did you start using drugs to numb painful emotions, calm yourself down after an argument, unwind after a bad day, or forget about your problems? After you become sober, the negative feelings that you used to dampen with drugs will resurface. For treatment to be successful, and to remain sober in the long term, you’ll need to resolve these underlying issues as well.
Conditions such as stress, loneliness, frustration, anger, shame, anxiety, and hopelessness will remain in your life even when you’re no longer using drugs to cover them up. But you will be in a healthier position to finally address them and seek the help you need.
Relieving stress without drugs:
Drug abuse often stems from misguided attempts to manage stress. Many people turn to alcohol or recreational drugs to unwind and relax after a stressful day, or to cover up painful memories and emotions that cause us to feel stressed and out of balance. But there are healthier ways to keep your stress level in check, including exercising, meditating, using sensory strategies to relax, practicing simple breathing exercises, and challenging self-defeating thoughts.
Strategies for quickly relieving stress without drugs:
You may feel like doing drugs is the only way to handle unpleasant feelings, but it’s not. You can learn to get through difficulties without falling back on your addiction. Different quick stress relief strategies work better for some people than others. The key is to find the one that works best for you, and helps you calm down when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. When you’re confident in your ability to quickly de-stress, facing strong feelings isn’t as intimidating or overwhelming.
Drug addiction treatment and recovery step 5: Keep triggers and cravings in check:
While getting sober from drugs is an important first step, it’s only the beginning of the recovery process. Once sober, the brain needs time to recover and rebuild connections that have changed while addicted. During this time, drug cravings can be intense. You can support your continued sobriety by making a conscious effort to avoid people, places, and situations that trigger the urge to use:
Coping with drug cravings Sometimes craving cannot be avoided, and it is necessary to find a way to cope:
Drug addiction treatment and recovery step 6: Build a meaningful drug-free life:
You can support your drug treatment and protect yourself from relapse by having activities and interests that provide meaning to your life. It’s important to be involved in things that you enjoy and make you feel needed. When your life is filled with rewarding activities and a sense of purpose, your addiction will lose its appeal.
Drug addiction treatment and recovery step 7: Don’t let relapse keep you down:
Relapse is a common part of the recovery process from drug addiction. While relapse is understandably frustrating and discouraging, it can also be an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and correct your treatment course.
What causes relapse? Various “triggers” can put people at risk of relapsing into old patterns of substance use. Causes of relapse can differ for each person. Some common ones include:
The important thing to remember is that relapse doesn’t mean treatment failure. Rather than giving up, get back on the wagon as quickly as you can. Call your sponsor, talk to your therapist, go to a meeting, or schedule an appointment with your doctor. When you’re sober again and out of danger, look at what triggered the relapse, what went wrong, and what you could have done differently. You can choose to get back on the path to recovery and use the experience to strengthen your commitment.
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