Recovering from Addiction

Going through addiction is one of the hardest experiences anyone can ever deal with. If it’s taken over your life, you may be wondering, “is there a way out?” The answer is yes, ten times yes! At the moment, you may feel as though the mountain (of recovery) ahead of you is too steep to climb. Just to assure you, achieving lasting recovery is highly possible — it doesn’t matter how hopeless your current situation feels.

Millions of people worldwide have broken free from the grips of addiction. You too, can. We’ve put together this in-depth guide that has the information you need on finding freedom from a self-destructive habit, dealing with the challenges in your recovery journey, and staying on track to a long-lasting, addiction-free life.

Acknowledge the Problem and Prepare for Change

To overcome addiction, you must, before anything else, truly accept that you have a problem. This realisation will ignite your desire to commit to the idea of change, and that’s all you need to kick-start your recovery. Acknowledging you have an addictive problem doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It only means that you no longer want to remain stuck in the reality of your destructive lifestyle. Acceptance is the point where real change starts. It gives you the power to move past the feelings of shame that hinder you from taking the necessary steps to change your life.

“Recovery is an acceptance that your life is in shambles and you have to change it.”
-Jamie Lee Curtis

Think about how much your life and the lives of those around you have changed ever since your addiction began. In other words, when you accept how serious the gravity of your situation is, you’ll feel the need to take responsibility.

Seek Professional Help and Commit to Treatment

Some believe that addiction is a progressive brain disease. Why? It changes the natural balance of neurotransmitters in the brain and rewires the dopamine system to respond to the self-destructive act with pleasure. That’s why you often experience an uncontrollable urge to pursue the addictive behaviour or substance, even though you are aware of the problems it’s causing in your life.

If you’re struggling to give up a self-destructive habit despite having a strong willpower, remember that your struggle has nothing to do with your character and everything to do with the complex nature of this illness. As with any other chronic illness, you need treatment to recover from dependence. You can talk to a trusted family member, friend, or your GP about your desire to overcome the problem, and they will point you in the right direction.

Entering and completing a residential or outpatient rehab treatment programme will give you the strongest possible foundation for long-term recovery. Addiction treatment centres use treatment approaches that help people regain control of their lives, regardless of how long they’ve battled a self-destructive habit. These treatment interventions are a blend of highly effective psychological (therapies & counselling) and physical (medical detoxification) treatments that will heal your body and brain. Recovering from addiction involves changing many things, including:

  • How you think about yourself
  • How you cope with stressors in your life
  • How you deal with negative thoughts

With the help of a counsellor and therapists at a treatment centre, you will:

  • Find long–term relief from the deep-seated issues that push you to engage in the addictive behaviour
  • Develop a positive outlook on yourself, which will keep you rooted in your recovery
  • Adopt healthy behaviours that will help you de-stress in a healthy way
  • Learn lifelong coping skills and relapse prevention strategies to help you thrive in sobriety

When you are under the care of addiction recovery specialists, you will also receive treatment for any underlying mental health condition you may have. Getting treated for these conditions will lower your risks of frequent relapse episodes when in recovery.

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Have a Support System Throughout Your Sobriety Journey

To make great strides in your recovery, identify and keep close the family members and friends whom you can lean on for encouragement, guidance, and comfort. Walking through recovery alone is not a good idea. Chances are, the negative feelings of loneliness and abandonment will eventually creep in, increasing your risks of relapse.

When you have a solid support system, you’ll realise that:

  • You Can Face Challenging Situations With Ease: When in recovery, indulging in the addictive behaviour or substance to cope with any difficult situation that comes your way is no longer an option. You have to face these issues head-on. Your support system will walk you through such dark times.
  • You Have People to Hold You Accountable: When you’re lucky to have people in your circle who truly care about your recovery, you will be honest with them about your progress. If they notice you slipping back into your old habits, they will bring it to your attention and offer guidance to help you re-focus.
  • You Have People to Cheer You on When You Hit a Rough Patch: For instance, when you relapse (which is okay since recovery doesn’t demand perfection), the encouraging words from your support system will keep you moving, even when you have reasons to give up.
  • Your Self-Esteem and Confidence Will Improve: Having people who believe that you can conquer the addiction will give you the motivation to continue with your sobriety journey.To ensure that you have the right people in your support network, ask yourself these critical questions:
    1. Is this someone who brings out the best side of me?
    2. Do they make me feel good(at all times) about myself?
    3. Do I feel genuinely respected by them?
    4. Do I deeply trust them?

Make Attending Recovery Meetings a Priority

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Recovering from dependency doesn’t have to be an isolated journey. You are better off connecting with people who have first-hand experiences with addiction and who can relate to your struggles because they are also on the path to sobriety (or have recovered already). Being part of peer support groups and 12-step recovery groups is essential to your recovery. Attending these group meetings regularly will transform your life in many ways, among them:

  • You will be inspired to stay focused on your sobriety goals when you hear real-life stories from peers who overcame setbacks during recovery.
  • You will form a sober and trusting network of friends who may turn out to be your greatest recovery allies and accountability partners for life.
  • You will have a go-to platform where you can be vulnerable about your experiences and feelings with no fear of judgement.
  • Your peers won’t hesitate to share their struggles with relapse. You will learn from their perspectives and do things differently.
  • Through these support groups, you can find referrals for additional support.

Your care team at the treatment centre will connect you with the support groups in your local area. You can also find 12-step meetings for the specific addiction you are recovering from online.

Know How to Keep your Triggers in Check and Cravings Under Control

As you go through recovery, it’s important to be fully aware of the high-risk situations that may get you off the right path. These situations include places, things, or people that bring back the urge to engage in the self-destructive act.

Choose to distance yourself from these triggers. For example:

  • Avoid hanging out with friends who will lead you further away from a sober lifestyle. Leaving behind those you once treasured may be hard, but it’s a decision that will pay off in the long run.
  • Stay away from places such as bars and clubs, as they may bring back memories of the addictive behaviour.
  • If gambling is your addiction, get rid of gambling applications from all your devices.

You can create a list of all your potential high-risk situations and carry it with you wherever you go. There might be days when this list will save you from making a choice you’ll later regret. Sometimes, triggers are unavoidable. You, therefore, have to find healthy ways to prevent minor cravings from turning into full-blown urges. Some of the most effective ways of coping with unavoidable triggers include:

  1. Engage in Distracting Activities: – You can exercise, call a friend, listen to music, watch your favourite show, walk your dog, or take a walk in nature. By doing so, you’ll divert your thoughts away from the urges.
  2. Have a Routine: – When you have some structure in your everyday life, you will have less idle time to feed on the destructive behaviour.
  3. Journal Your Feelings: –Through journaling, you’ll have an outlet to get off negative emotions from your chest.
  4. Talk it through with one of your support systems – Cravings are common when you’re in recovery. Don’t feel ashamed when they crop up. Sharing your experience with someone you trust will help you relieve the urges.
  5. Challenge your thoughts:– Constantly remind yourself what you stand to lose if you fall into the trap of giving in to the destructive habit.

It’s important to keep in mind that as you engage in distracting activities, avoid substitute activities that may be addictive. For example, if you are recovering from substance abuse, spending all your free time on the internet isn’t a good idea. The key to a wholesome recovery from addiction is to find a balance in your life.

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Build a Purpose-Driven Life as You Begin Recovery

One of the toughest things about recovery is filling the void left by the self-destructive habit. Working towards sobriety requires finding a sense of satisfaction that isn’t derived from the thrill of indulging in the harmful behaviour. Create your life anew if you haven’t already. You will have better recovery outcomes when you adopt interests that add meaning to your life. Strive to commit to activities that give you a sense of purpose and satisfaction, as this is among the best defence against relapse. When your new phase of life (recovery) is filled with purposeful activities, the addiction gradually loses its appeal.

There are several ways you can create a fulfilling, sober lifestyle:

  1. Be involved in another person’s (from your support group) sobriety journey: Being someone else’s source of encouragement and support will make you feel good about your contribution in their progress.
  2. Set goals right from the start of your recovery: Does attending recovery meetings twice a week mean something to you? Do you aim to stay sober for the next 5 or 10 plus years? Want to build a successful career in one year?Write all these goals down. You will hold back from returning to your old lifestyle when you know you have goals to accomplish.
  3. Make relaxation techniques part of your lifestyle: When practices such as yoga, deep breathing and meditation become part of your everyday routine, you will learn how to keep tension and other unhealthy emotions at bay. You won’t constantly feel the need to resort to the self-destructive habit as your escape when in recovery.
  4. Take full charge of your health: Engage in physical activities often. Adopt healthy eating habits and sleeping routines. Make self-care a priority. Doing so will improve your overall well-being and self-worth, which will help you maintain a positive attitude throughout your recovery.
  5. Volunteer: Regularly volunteer in community and church events that allow you to make a difference in society.
  6. Have hobbies: Embrace new hobbies or pick up an old hobby that you had neglected. You’ll have fun activities to do when bored. Endless hours of boredom during recovery can cause relapse.

Anyone can Recover From Addiction, Including You

Breaking free from addiction is a journey that needs motivation, discipline, patience, and a supportive community. It involves making lots of big (and minor) changes in your life. The journey won’t be easy. You’ll have both good days and bad days — but this is what will make your sobriety journey one to be proud of. Everything worthwhile takes time, and addiction recovery is no exception. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t progress as fast as you hoped you would. As long as you are making slow-but-sure progress, it doesn’t matter how many months or years it will take for you to arrive at your desired destination. With persistence, you’ll eventually attain lasting recovery.

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