Addiction is one of the most misunderstood health conditions. Having an addiction to drugs or alcohol abuse is not about having a flaw in your character or a weak will. It is a chronic behavioural health condition that develops through a combination of social, psychological, and physical factors.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction then it is important to understand that addiction is treatable and recovery is an option. This article will explain how to approach addiction and provide advice on how to take positive steps forwards.
Accept that a Problem Exists
You might not have fully recognised and accepted that you or a loved one is struggling with addiction. Many of those with addictions find it tough to acknowledge this and might be in a state of denial. This is very understandable – it is a tough step to confront.
Think about how your behaviour might have changed over time since using substances or alcohol. Signs of having an addiction may include:
- Not stopping even when it is having a negative impact on your life
- Losing interest in things that were previously important to you
- Having less time for family and friends
- Others commenting on behavioural changes
- Frequently thinking about the next dose /drink
- Becoming angry, violent, depressed, or moody
- Becoming shaky or sick without the substance/alcohol
Understand that Addiction Won’t Just Go Away
Addiction won’t just go away on its own. Addiction makes changes to the person’s biology and particularly to the brain. It affects the way the brain feels pleasure and motivation, as well as its ability to control impulses and make judgements. This is what leads to intense cravings for the drug and can often prevent someone from being able to experience pleasure without the substance.
Addiction is a complex illness and it is also grounded in social and psychological factors that are less easy to identify. The word ‘addiction’ actually comes from the Latin word for ‘enslaved’ – and anyone who has struggled with overcoming an addiction would understand why.
Talk to your Loved Ones
Addiction is even more difficult if you feel isolated in your illness, but you should try to remember that there are those who love you and who are ready to support you. It is difficult to admit to oneself about an addiction problem, and even more difficult to admit this to a loved one, but you will feel a relief from sharing your struggles with someone who cares about your wellbeing.
Talking to a loved one about your difficulties ensures that you don’t have to take this journey alone – you will have someone looking out for you when times get tough and someone to call at midnight when you’re in need. Likewise, be ready to accept the help that they offer, and you’ll find that the path away from addiction will be easier.
Only Seek Help When You’re Ready
Addiction forces you to face truths about yourself that you’d probably prefer to avoid, but acknowledging to yourself that you have a problem is a big step. This will help you to understand when you personally are ready to seek help. If you want to change your addictive behaviours and lead a new life beyond them, then you are more likely to succeed than if you turn to treatment or rehab only because a loved one has asked you to and you feel obliged to follow their requests.
The desire has also to come from within you, and you might have to be patient for this feeling to come. Don’t rush into it and ensure you feel ready when the time comes.
It’s Not About the Substance or Behaviour
Addiction is a chronic illness that comes in cycles of peaks, pauses, and relapses, and it remains an illness even during those pauses. Being addicted is about needing to do something to take some substance even if it is driving you to do things that you know are harmful to yourself or to others. It is most often associated with drugs, smoking, or alcohol, but people can become addicted to many different things, for example food, work, sex, or shopping. It is about the pattern of use or doing an action that defines addiction.
Consider Treatment Away from the Home Environment
Your environment is also a thing to think about when you are ready to start on the road to recovery. Your home and local community might hold many reminders for you, and it could be good to put a distance between yourself and these triggers – whether that is the people, places, or paraphernalia that have come to be associated with your addictive behaviours.
Seeking treatment in a new location, such as our private rehab services near Bournemouth, will help you to remove yourself from the places that you associate with your addiction, and could help you think to start afresh.
Consider Residential Treatment
Residential treatment could also help with this, as a residential recovery centre provides you with a holistic setting for the treatment process to take place. You can be free from any other responsibilities, letting you fully concentrate on yourself.
Addiction is hard to break free of when you are having to live in your daily routine at the same time. Residential treatment allows you to take your time and have freedom of thought – letting you focus on detoxing and cutting yourself free of cravings and the addictive thought cycles.
Have a Plan
Having a plan will allow you to approach addiction treatment with a structure and with expectations – though you should think about realistic and personal expectations when you plan this.
This will help you to enter the treatment process with the right mindset, and once going through the residential treatment, you will be able to assess your own progress and remain focused on the task at hand.
It would also be helpful to establish boundaries with your loved ones, to protect themselves and your relationship with them whilst going through this difficult period. This allows you and them to clearly navigate the process together, whilst remembering how to keep your relationship healthy.
Talk to an Expert
At some point you might find yourself wanting or needing to talk to an expert about the problems you are facing. Maybe your loved ones don’t know how to proceed with helping you, or you want to turn to someone with professional expertise and experience in this field, or even if you need to call in a moment of crisis – we are here to help.
We offer a free telephone consultation if you find yourself looking for this external support. We can discuss potential treatment options that are suitable to you and offer advice on how to proceed. Each person’s route to recovery is different, and we want you to find the best method that will bring you long-term success and wellbeing.