The first step to solving a problem is recognizing that it exists – in this case, admitting addiction. This age-old phrase best describes what’s wrong with the concept of denial, and why many struggle with addiction for far too long.
It’s understandable, of course. No one wants to find themselves admitting addiction. It’s a scourge that has caused over 60,000 deaths in the last year alone, and there’s a terrible stigma still attached to drug addiction.
However, there’s nothing to gain from hiding it – and plenty to lose. That is why the first step to a successful recovery is admitting addiction and realizing that you’re struggling with it.
The Problem With Denial Instead Of Admitting Addiction
Denial is the willful refusal to accept the truth. The reason this empowers addiction is because the only way to take strides towards sobriety is to accept that you need to be sober in the first place. There is no shame in being addicted, and there is no shame in struggling to overcome that addiction. In fact, if you try to fight against your addiction, then you’re already making massive headway. But if you let it overcome you, then shame won’t matter. Because it’ll be over.
There is no other way to put it – being in denial is tantamount to letting addiction win. But if you end up admitting addiction, you’re already one massive step ahead of the disease.
It’s Not Just About You
If there’s ever a time to get serious, and be truthful, it’s now. Addiction overdose rates show that there is a significant danger in denial – and you owe it not just to yourself, but to others to stop. If you’re in denial, then there’s a reason you are – a reason that usually means that admitting addiction would have major implications for yourself and others. It means you stand to lose something.
If you don’t step out of your denial, then you will lose something: your life. And those around you won’t be able to prevent it unless you take up the fight against it. It’s not selfless to hide this problem. But by admitting addiction and that you have a problem, all while taking the first few steps to fight it, you’re giving everyone a chance to help you make sure that your treatment sticks – and your sobriety is long-lasting. That’s where the other steps come into play.
How Steps Help With Recovery
We’re not necessarily talking about the twelve steps. Any recovery program will involve a step-by-step treatment plan – and the first, unspoken step is always realizing that you have a problem, admitting addiction, and deciding to do something about it.
Beyond that, taking the journey in a step-by-step manner is best. Recovery will last a long time, and at some point, every single day will be a momentous step forward. In early recovery, staying away from your drug of choice is a little easier, especially if you choose to go through inpatient or residential treatment, or join a sober living community. The first few days can be a little harrowing due to withdrawal – but after that, you begin to come to terms with living in a sober body.
From there, the next step is crafting a sober mind. You may have to go through several different activities until you find something that properly stimulates you, and helps you take your mind off things.
Then, it’s time to tackle the psychological. Therapy and group therapy is great not only to help you figure yourself out, but also as sources of motivation and inspiration. In due time, you can even help inspire others with your story, give out advice, and offer a fresh perspective on how to tackle the different personal dilemmas of early recovery.
With time, your treatment may be over – but sobriety goes on. And out in the real world, dealing with life’s responsibilities, curveballs and tragedies can bring back nostalgic memories of your addiction – the new challenge will be dealing with these memories, and avoiding a relapse. The steps go on and on – and the more you have behind you, the easier it’ll be to run past them.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Life
If you want your recovery to succeed, then you must shed a lot of fear. Addiction feeds on anxiety and paranoia, and it breeds it. Not only does this create a more stressful situation, but it limits your possibilities. With addiction come inevitable life changes, and with sobriety come even more changes. You may have to completely alter the way you look at life. And you’ll have to open up to others.
The reason fear, lies and addiction all go hand in hand is because of the shame and guilt behind being stuck with addiction. So, try and shed that shame and guilt. Don’t feel guilty over a mistake you made in bad judgment, or in the heat of your youth. Don’t feel shameful over what amounts to nothing more than a psychological disease, a sickness that requires treatment. Shed these self-deprecating judgments, and just focus on being true to yourself and to others. Tell them when you need help. Help them when you can. Believe in a sober you, not in a you that’s doomed to constantly relapse.
If you hide away, you’ll let the addiction win. But if you open up by admitting addiction, seek help and put your trust in those around you to help you at every turn, you may just be surprised by how much you can change for the better.