Aside from being physically strong, strength is also the quality of being able to stand up to an immense amount of pressure or resistance without giving way. It’s fair to say that most recovering addicts don’t feel very strong in the early days of recovery. And to many, the guilt and shame of addiction might wear down on them to the point where they feel that they either don’t deserve help or shouldn’t seek it out.
Being a burden to others is a real fear for many recovering addicts, and it sadly keeps them from getting the help they need. But rather than showing weakness, consider perhaps that openly acknowledging you have a problem and voluntarily seeking out help shows strength instead. Indeed, rather than feeling weak for admitting you need help, the courage it takes to step up and tell another human being that you’re flawed and struggling is tantamount to courage.
Asking for Help Requires Strength
People don’t hide weakness out of strength. That is a misinterpretation of what it means to be strong, instead twisting the meaning into something else entirely. To be strong requires fortitude, to be strong requires the ability to stand up in the face of adversity. It requires action.
It does not require a lie. Any addict refusing to seek help is not being strong but is instead acting tough. Portraying a falsehood is simply shielding oneself from the pain of unveiling an inner insecurity, running away in cowardice from the difficult path that lies ahead to instead wallow in silent self-pity. True strength comes from recognizing what must be done, and indeed, seeking help is the only feasible way to deal with an addiction.
We don’t lock ourselves in a room and try really hard to get better when we’ve caught a chronic illness. Instead, we go to a professional and accept the tough treatment that lays ahead. We do our best to survive and live on for the sake of those who we are accountable to, those we feel responsible for, and for ourselves, to prove that life still has meaning and purpose.
The courage required to step up and do something about your addiction is a sign of strength, while acting like it isn’t a problem at all is just a sign that you have given into your fears and anxieties, and have chosen to ignore a problem rather than confront it.
Addicts Need Help
Addiction is not a disease you treat alone. It’s a disease that requires professional and medical help. Some types of addiction are best treated with medication, while others require intensive therapy and time spent away from drugs, time spent dealing with the physical and mental ramifications of long-term addiction, time spent looking inwards and reflecting on the events that transpired while addicted, and how the consequences of those events need to be dealt with in sobriety.
Addiction treatment is as much about helping an addict overcome addiction and avoid relapse as it is about helping them cope with the difficulties and realities of sobriety after addiction, helping them stay sane and mentally prepared for the many different consequences they’re likely to face, and get ready for the responsibilities they’re going to have to take on. From paying your bills to taking care of yourself and your loved ones, addiction treatment highlights the difficulties in rejoining society after being addicted, and often does its best to make each patient aware of the speedbumps and pitfalls they have to avoid or overcome on the way.
Because most addicts relapse within the first year after treatment, recovery programs also often account for the future, either by encouraging recovering addicts to seek further resources to switch to a different program if they feel they still need the support and help, including outpatient programs and sober living homes are ideal ways to continue the fight against addiction.
Addiction Can Be Temporary
Addiction is a chronic illness, in the sense that it shows signs of coming back and requiring continued support and treatment to overcome. However, on that note, it can be overcome. While recovery is a lifelong process, and sobriety is something you have to actively work on, the aspect of physical and emotional dependence is something that does fade away with time. The memories of the addiction never leave you, but the addiction itself does, and you regain the ability to live life as you choose to.
This is important because it signifies that getting help means something – it means that you get to have purpose again, and lead life in such a way that you aren’t pursuing the next high but are instead pursuing the next goal. But it’s only by first asking for help and dedicating yourself to recovery that you open up that possibility. That’s why addiction can be temporary. If you let it, it will grow until it consumes you completely, and leaves you for dead. But if you fight it, together with the help and support you need, you can end its overwhelming influence over you and make a real difference in your life – and in the lives of others.
Helping Others Become Stronger
Recovery never ends, but it’s difficult to find ways to maintain the same level of motivation over years and years. With time, stress can mount, and certain events can tip the balance and send you over the edge. Having something consistent to hold onto is important in that regard, as it convinces you to stay on the straight and narrow.
One way to ensure that you’re always involved in recovery without constantly making things about yourself is to get involved in the recovery of others. Get active in local sobriety groups, write about addiction and recovery online, organize group meetings to share stories and talk about mutual challenges, and keep the spirit of recovery alive by encouraging others to come together and help one another stay motivated.
Strength means resilience, and like anything else, it takes effort and the right will to bolster that resilience and maintain it even in the face of failure. Most recovering addicts struggle with their addiction, and there will be more than just one instance where you might consider giving up entirely. But you owe it to yourself to truly give your all, and trust those around you to help you as best as they can as well. Remember: unless you volunteer to throw in the towel, your chance to overcome addiction will never go away.