What Are the Best Coping Mechanisms for Dealing with the Change to Sobriety?

Sobriety Coping Mechanisms

If there’s anything to be said for drugs and alcohol, it’s that they take the edge off. Most people start using drugs not with the intention of ruining their lives or succumbing to addiction, but because it felt like a good idea at the time – either because everyone else was doing it, and it felt good, or because people sometimes find themselves in places of great hurt and need things that feel good.

Despite the fact that drugs and alcohol take the edge off, they also make you pay a terrible price over time – addiction. There’s nothing glamorous or debatably cool about addiction. It starts as a nightmare and ends as a tragedy.

Thankfully, some people get the help they need. And once they do, they find the strength to get sober and stay sober. But it isn’t easy. And once the drugs are gone and the booze doesn’t flow anymore, there’s nothing to take off the edge. Worse yet, addiction tends to sharpen the edge and make it cut deeper than you ever thought possible. For many, this turns early sobriety into a living hell, enough to force most to relapse very early on.

Without anything to take off the edge, you’re not going to stay sober for any significant length of time. That’s where adaptive coping mechanisms come into play.


What Are Coping Mechanisms

Coping mechanisms are central to everyday life. They might sound like a form of treatment specifically prescribed to people struggling with great traumas, but the reality is that we all need coping mechanisms, and most of us seek them out one way or another. Having a little nightcap after a stressful day, hitting the boxing gym to keep yourself in check, going out with friends after getting dumped, reliving old memories through pictures and music after losing someone we love – we all cope with stressors in life, both big and small, by seeking out comfort and reassurance, by seeking out strength and self-determination, by seeking out the memories of a time when things were better.

Some coping mechanisms are adaptive. Some are maladaptive. In other words, there are good ways and bad ways to cope. Drugs and alcohol are effective, but they’re maladaptive. They help you feel better for a time, bit instead of actually helping you improve your situation or process your pain, they simply add onto your growing list of personal problems.

Some coping mechanisms are both maladaptive and adaptive depending on the situation. We may cope by memorializing our loved one and moving on after processing their loss through cherished memories and loving gestures. Or we become hung up on their loss, letting it rule our lives, putting us deeper into a depressive hole with no sight of an exit.

To stay sober, you need a list of clear, healthy, adaptive coping mechanisms. Not one, or two, but three or more. Things you can do to take off the edge, improve your life, improve your health, improve your relationships, find your way, redefine yourself as a new sober person, and make great strides towards a permanently drug-free life. We’re going to cover three basic groups – physical coping mechanisms, social coping mechanisms, and mental coping mechanisms.


Physical Coping Mechanisms

These are ways to use your body to work off stress. Exercise is an obvious choice, but not everyone enjoys hitting the gym – and many people struggle to do so consistently.

Pick a physical hobby that you will actually enjoy, something you can commit to as a healthy, physical activity to expend excess energy, vent out a little, and generally feel better and lighter afterwards. Movement and exertion, not exercise, is ultimately what helps us release endorphins and feel good. Bonus points if you’re having fun, because that helps even more.

Think dancing, climbing, lifting, sprinting, boxing, wrestling, running, kettlebell sports, biking, curling, fencing, tennis, ping pong, and more.


Social Coping Mechanisms

Coping mechanisms are ways to deal with stress, so a “social coping mechanism” might sound confusing. But it makes a little more sense when you think of it as “healthy activity you can have with friends”.

Avoid activities where you barely end up talking much to each other, as well as activities where you might be pressured to drink or use, like visiting a loud club, heading to the movies, or going to a concert. Focus on activities that are fun and bonding, like hiking, escape rooms, video or board game night, coffee and cake tasting, restaurant-hopping, or team sports.


Mental Coping Mechanisms

These are coping mechanisms that help you put your mind at ease, especially when you’re feeling anxious or craving. These are, in essence, distractions you can use to keep yourself from remaining fixated on your own inner cravings. To prevent these from just becoming media consumption, focus on constructive coping mechanisms. For example, instead of just listening to music, pick up an easy instrument and try to learn how to play your favorite songs.

Instead of just reading a book, try journaling or a short story based on your inner turmoil, even if you don’t plan to have anyone ever read it. Instead of watching a movie, draw or paint something – don’t be too worried about how it’ll come out, just let your imagination and raw emotions guide you.


The Old You Is Gone

Don’t be afraid to completely redefine your life, and who you are. Addiction changes you fundamentally, and sometimes causes you to do and say things you’ll never be able to come back. You may find yourself recovering from addiction deeply regretting a great number of things, finding yourself in a place you’ve never really planned to be in.

Instead of dwelling on that, you have to adapt. Drug recovery is an opportunity to completely change yourself and take a step in a better direction – and it starts by tearing down everything about you that you don’t like during recovery and working meticulously to build it up again. Don’t fall for preconceived notions of character – you can be whoever you want to be and turning over a new leaf is something we’re allowed to do day after day, and not only after traumatic events.

Feel free to try new things out, delve into uncomfortable and unfamiliar new hobbies and topics, explore different communities and perspectives on life, and work on both new relationships and salvaging old ones. Life has its fair share of stresses and struggles, but ultimately you should be doing more than just coping. You should be living.


The Negative Health Effects of Addiction

Negative effects of addiction

There’s absolutely no doubt in most people’s mind that addiction is a bad thing. Yet many cannot quantify why. Some say that getting hooked on drugs will rot your brain – but that’s only half the story, if that. Long term drug use will lead to the total deterioration of your physical and mental health, beginning with the brain and continuing throughout the body. If an overdose won’t kill you, then it’s likely that any one of several other possible diseases and organ failures will.

Worse yet, addiction doesn’t only affect one single individual. Some may defend their behavior and say that it’s their choice to stay addicted – but in doing so, they place others in harm’s way, often to the point of causing major and potentially fatal damage. Drug use is never a good idea – and by knowing exactly how it takes the body and mind apart, we can better educate ourselves and our children on why it isn’t worth the risk.


Drug Use and Physical Damage

Different drugs lead to different forms of disease, mostly because drugs are either toxic to begin with, or because the addiction leads to tolerance, which leads to greater and greater dosages.

Stimulants like amphetamine and cocaine typically lead to a greater risk of heart damage, heart disease, and strokes, while depressive drugs like alcohol and benzodiazepine, as well as opioids, can lead to respiratory arrest, oxygen deprivation, and memory loss. Inhaling methamphetamine or crack cocaine can cause dental damage, and gum damage. These drugs also attack the liver, because it works hard to process and metabolize the drugs. Alcohol can lead to a fatty liver and eventually cause liver cirrhosis, or liver scarring.

Nicotine, usually in the form of cigarettes, presents a great risk for lung cancer, because of the carcinogenic chemicals found in cigarettes and tobacco in general.


Drug Use and Mental Damage

It’s clear that addiction changes the way the brain works – but besides that, it also impairs the mind and affects the way people think. Addiction correlates with a higher likelihood of mental illness, not just because people with mental illness are more likely to use drugs to self-medicate, but because drug use can lead to depression and self-loathing, suicidal thought, and trigger other mood disorders, personality disorders, or possible mental health issues.

Besides mental health diagnoses, addiction also eats into the grey matter of the brain, reducing cognitive function and awareness, cutting into memory, and impairing an individual’s ability to consider risks, think into the future, and inhibit their actions. This can lead to more impulsive and destructive behavior, as well as less empathic and more selfish behavior. Occasionally, drug use can become so severe that it makes a person more violent. Methamphetamine is a particularly troubling drug for the mind, as it is neurotoxic and can affect the brain’s ability to process serotonin, an important neurotransmitter.


Health Impact on Others

While addiction takes its toll on individuals physically and mentally, it has quite the impact on those living around an addict, as well.

Risk of birth defects – the use of drugs, from nicotine to alcohol to opioids, can lead to major complications and health problems in pregnant women and their unborn children, causing a range of disease including fetal alcohol syndrome, neonatal abstinence syndrome (withdrawal in newborn babies), and more. Drugs can also make their way into a mother’s breastmilk, which is essential for a baby’s early immune function and general health. These substances can impair and harm the child’s development. Severe drug use may even lead to a premature labor, placental abruption, other birth defects, or miscarriage.

Spread of infectious diseases – sharing needles and engaging in risky sexual activity due to impaired thinking can lead to a slew of sexually-transmitted diseases and infectious diseases, due to unsanitary drug use. The US has seen a rise in STDs primarily correlating with the rise in opioid abuse. Most of these diseases are preventable by practicing safe sex with trusted partners and avoiding drugs. About 1 in 10 cases of HIV in the US is caused by drug injection, while drugs like prescription opioids and methamphetamine can greatly boost libido and decrease cognitive function (critical thinking).

Risk of automotive accidents – driving under the influence of drugs, particularly alcohol and other depressants, is extremely dangerous and often puts the driver and everyone else on the road in harm’s way. Automobile accidents caused by drinking claim about 29 lives every single day, in the US alone. This is a nationwide issue with no simple fix, but many who drive under the influence do so because they can’t stop drinking or taking drugs.

Risk of secondhand smoke – secondhand smoke puts children and adults alike at risk for lung cancer, even in individuals who have never smoked before. Secondhand smoke often contains dangerous and carcinogenic chemicals from the production of tobacco and the production of cigarettes. Secondhand smoke from high-THC marijuana can very rarely show up in a urine test, potentially putting the jobs and careers of those who don’t smoke at risk.

Drug use can end a person’s life – but it can also negatively impact and end the lives of others. As our nation is currently struggling with an opioid epidemic, it’s more important today than ever to educate one another on the negative effects of drug use – not to scare the kids into staying on the straight and narrow, but to teach them the value of their own life, and that the short-term pleasure associated with drug use will never be worth the physical and mental price you pay with addiction.

More than ever, now is the time to show compassion toward our loved ones as they struggle with getting clean and staying clean. Addiction treatment today is more effective than it has ever been, but it’s still a long and bumpy road for most.

Residential treatment, outpatient programs, sober living homes and addiction treatment resource centers exist all over the country, providing relief in the face of a problem that affects millions. By encouraging treatment, communities can work together to push back against a growing issue.

Can You Be Predisposed Toward Addiction?

Predisposition towards addiction

Addictions develop over time, requiring extensive contact with drugs. However, a person’s likelihood to use drugs as well as their sensitivity to said drugs can speed up the addiction process. There are factors outside of a person’s control that make them more likely to get addicted. From genetics to school year experiences, countless factors increase or decrease the likelihood of addiction.

Up to a tenth of the country has used an illicit drug in the past month, and the majority of Americans have tried illicit drugs in their lifetime. This country is no stranger to drugs, and as news reports and statistics show, illegal meth, heroin, and marijuana are produced and distributed throughout the nation. Aside from prescription drugs and alcohol, teens and adults today must face the fact that at some point, they will possibly be confronted with the choice of taking drugs, or not taking them, either through friends, family, or distant acquaintances.

Until the moment drug use turns into addiction, every instance of use is a matter of choice. But choices are not always rational. Instead, many of us are impulsive, and rash, especially in our youth, and in times of great stress and pain.

Acknowledging and studying how certain risk factors affect addiction can help us better understand why some people get addicted while others don’t, and it helps us better identify whether someone is at risk of developing an addiction or not. For people who have gone through the process of getting addicted, it can help them understand why, and how it happened. For those scared of struggling with addiction, it can provide the additional information they need to confirm that drugs are not worth the risk.


Addiction and Family History

Statistically, the risk of developing an addiction when exposed to drug use correlates with a family history of drug abuse. Roughly half of the risk of getting addicted is genetic. That does not mean that nearly half of all people who have a history of addiction in the family will develop an addiction. What it means is that in people who do develop an addiction, it’s likely there was a family history of addiction, and that they were genetically predisposed to react more strongly to certain drugs.

We don’t completely understand why that is. One possible explanation may be that drug use leaves an impression on the genes, passing on a susceptibility. A more plausible explanation may be that some families are more susceptible to the addictive qualities of drugs due to the way their brain works.

It’s a topic of much debate, with a substantial amount of research dedicated to uncovering the truth, and no clear consensus in sight. Comorbid factors such as mental illness can also be genetic, especially in the case of mood disorders and anxiety. Because these also increase the risk of addiction, the waters are quite muddied when it comes to ascertaining exactly how much risk family history accounts for. Human genome experts are working on isolating potential genes that may explain a tendency towards substance abuse.

Other forms of predisposition include childhood experiences and mental health issues. These are not genetic but do count as affecting a person’s risk for addiction. Growing up in a hostile environment can lead to many emotional instabilities and insecurities, which can be “medicated” through drug use. Mental health issues also correlate with addiction, for similar reasons. When mental healthcare is unavailable, too expensive, or avoided out of the fear of being stigmatized or ostracized, drug use temporarily becomes an attractive alternative.


Predisposition Isn’t a Guarantee

An important message to remember is that simply being predisposed towards addiction does not mean you will be addicted. The biggest risk factor is and always will be extensive drug use. So, staying away from drugs eliminates the possibility of developing a drug addiction.

Behavioral addictions are more difficult to avoid. You can form an unhealthy relationship with food, sex, gambling, and other activities. However, many argue that these disorders are separate from addiction. In either case, just as there are many factors that increase risk, there are also things you can do to stave off the risk of addiction, such as:

  • Biannual checkups – there are health conditions that can lead to mental health problems. If gone unnoticed, they can wreak havoc on your life. Getting regular checkups can uncover deficiencies, abnormalities, and stop mental symptoms before they grow.
  • Going to therapy – many Americans avoid therapy yet struggle with mental health issues or symptoms of a developing emotional problem. Like other diseases, these issues can fester and grow. In the early stages, they can be remedied at home through a happier, healthier lifestyle. But in cases of severe anxiety, depression, or trauma, getting professional help is critical.
  • Leading a healthy life – eat well, move often. Not only is a balanced diet good for your waistline, but it’s essential for your mental health.
  • Avoiding excess stress – stress is a fact of life, but there’s only so much we can take, even with all the world’s relaxation techniques. Eliminate unnecessary stress.
  • Enjoying your work – while this is not possible for everyone, you should aim to do something you genuinely like doing. Not everyone has the privilege of pursuing their passions, but it can genuinely help to do work you enjoy doing.
  • Making friends – having emotional support in your life matters a lot. Being able to support others emotionally is just as, if not more important. We rely on human interaction and being there for others not only allows us to create stronger bonds but makes us feel more important and useful.


Get Help

If you or someone you know is at risk for developing an addiction, it’s important to remember that that is not the same as having an addiction. Preemptively asking someone to seek treatment for an addiction they don’t have is out of line. But what you can do is ask someone to seek help for any other problems they may have. If you fear your friend is struggling with a mental health issue, like depression, and may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and forget about their problems, then asking them to address the issue before it escalates can help.

If you’re struggling mentally and are worried about developing an addiction, know that you’re still in control. Drugs don’t have legs of their own, and won’t make their way into your life unless you let them in. But it’s a good idea to seek out help anyway, especially to address your thoughts, mood, and behavior, and potentially find out if there’s anything going on in your head.

If you or someone you know has been struggling with addiction, then getting help is critical. The sooner you address an addiction, the easier it is to treat the problem. Like other diseases, if left to grow unchecked for too long, treatment can become very difficult.


The Recovery Timeline

The Recovery Timeline

Recovery is not a quick process. In a manner of speaking, addiction recovery is a lifelong commitment – but the road to feeling “normal” again and being in control of your life and your actions, is only a few weeks or months long.

Addiction recovery begins with the choice to live a better life. Then, that choice leads to getting help. From there, most treatment programs begin by helping you get clean, helping you through the withdrawal process, and giving you an idea of what’s to come in the near future.

After withdrawal, addiction treatment changes and generally looks very different from person to person. Some people respond better to certain types of therapy than others, and it can be difficult to know what works best for you. Whenever possible, treatment centers would work to help you include others in your treatment – from friends and family, to other sober people looking for support from a local sober community.

Only a fraction of recovery is about quitting drug use. The rest is about helping you keep the commitment alive – not because you need to, but because you want to. Learning to love sobriety and lead a life you can wholeheartedly enjoy without another high is incredibly difficult, but it gets easier when you start doing things you love.

Everyone has a different path, although they all lead in the same direction: sobriety as an opportunity to lead a happier, healthier, and enjoyable life, free from drug use because you just don’t need them anymore. Getting there takes time. How much time is up to you and the treatment you chose.


The First Step Is…

It’s a cliché, but that’s just because it’s true. The first step in recovery is realizing you have a problem and doing something about it. Whether it’s telling your family, asking a doctor, visiting a treatment facility, or getting in touch with a sober friend, any serious action towards sobriety with the understanding that you have a problem is a real first step.

The first step must be your own. Getting sent to rehab through a court order or maintaining your denial even while going through therapy is not the first step – it’s a prelude, the last dying throes of your addiction before you wake up and realize you’re fighting against a disease.

No matter how you come to your realization, it usually leads to the same place – professional help. Treatment facilities, outpatient programs, addiction medicine, sober living homes, specialized therapy – there are many ways to combat addiction, and they can all work.


Addiction, Tolerance, Withdrawal, and Detox

Once you’ve found help, quitting is next. But with quitting comes a lot of extra baggage. In most cases, an addiction doesn’t just lead to mental symptoms, but it affects the body as well. Quitting drug use while addicted thus leads to withdrawal symptoms, caused by the physical dependence developed during the addiction.

These symptoms differ from drug to drug, usually including:

  • Jitters
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Shivers
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia

Getting addicted takes much longer than a single hit, and relatively few drug users end up struggling with addiction – in fact, many experiment, and then go on with their lives without a single craving.

But some are far more susceptible to abusing drugs than others, for reasons like pain, trauma, or fear. Many use drugs to escape these emotions – and the continuous use desensitizes the brain to the drug, leading to tolerance. Soon, the user must take a higher dosage to feel the same effect. And with time, the brain readjusts to the new dosage. Eventually, when it comes time to quit, the brain can’t adjust to the sudden lack of the drug. This causes emotional and physical havoc.

Certain non-addictive drugs retain the same problem, requiring a careful weaning process to avoid the consequences of withdrawal. Antidepressants, for example, are not physically addictive but require you to wean off them due to the nature of the drug’s interactions with neurotransmitters in the brain.

However, depending on what you’re addicted to, treatment centers may simply help you deal with your withdrawal without weaning you off your drug. Instead, they begin by helping you detox. The detox process happens at all times – it occurs whenever a drug is ingested. Once in the bloodstream, the liver begins metabolizing a drug, and disposing of it through your waste – through the sweat, urine, and feces. Medical detox may involve helping your system metabolize the drugs in your bloodstream by offering medicine that helps the liver and kidneys function better.

After detox, your body will go through unique withdrawal symptoms. The timeline for withdrawal depends on your health, the severity of the addiction, and the drug you took. Some withdrawal periods are small – others are much longer. Sedatives like alcohol and anti-anxiety medication usually have the longest withdrawal periods.

In some cases – such as methamphetamine use – withdrawal symptoms can reoccur weeks after the initial period is over. This is known as post-acute withdrawal symptom, an effect of prolonged drug use on the brain.


After Early Recovery

Once you’re clean and past the initial rollercoaster of sobriety, your mind begins to see reality a bit clearer. This marks the end of the early recovery period, and it’s usually where the meat of a program is tackled. Sober living homes, residential rehabilitation centers and outpatient programs all involve the use of psychotherapy to help patients like you figure out why you resorted to drug use, and what might make you stop craving drugs in the future.

Responsibility, accountability, self-worth – these are tools that programs try to instill in patients, by honing their abilities, helping them learn to trust themselves again, and giving them hope for a future where they can be an important part of society and their families. But it doesn’t happen overnight. And there can be setbacks.


Dealing with Relapse

A relapse is when someone in recovery uses again. Because recovery builds up the hope of a new future, relapses can be particularly devastating as they make many believe there is no hope for them after all. But this is misleading.

The truth is that most people struggle with one or more relapses in the early years of sobriety, while they are still figuring out how to live their lives without drugs. Relapses are regrettable, but they do not signify failure. And by working with a good treatment center or therapist, you can even learn from a relapse and discover what it is that specifically made you turn back towards drugs as an answer to your problems.

Some people never relapse, and others take several rehab sessions until they finally find the life they needed to live. If you never give up, there’s always hope.


The Marathon

We’ve heard it before: it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Marathons are 42.195 kilometers in length, often spanning through entire cities, as per the distance from Marathon to Athens. It’s a long and arduous journey, requiring a lot of preparation, stamina, willpower, and physical fortitude. There can be hurdles, slow moments, second winds, doubts and hopes.

Your marathon spans years, from the day you complete your program to the day you pass on. While addiction is a disease that eats at the brain, there is a time when you regain control over your life, and your choices are your own – despite the temptations, cravings, and difficulties coping with life’s challenges, you must make the choice to stay sober day after day, week after week, year after year.

Most people falter at least once, and relapses are common. Some, sadly, falter and never get up again. But many manage, finding their pace, making each day less arduous and more rewarding. This is the final stretch of the timeline, an indefinite period lasting for as long as you wish.


Overview of Illegal Drug Abuse

Illegal Drug Abuse

Drugs like heroin, cocaine, and marijuana are classified as schedule I and II drugs – drugs that may or may not have a valid medical use, but are in either case extremely dangerous, and very addictive. These drugs are criminalized because of their potential for abuse, and the damage they can wreak on the human body.

Yet despite the inherent risks associated with drug use – from the damage it causes to the brain and organs, to the damage it can wreak on relationships and reputations, to the risk of jailtime – millions of Americans today use and are addicted to illicit drugs. Why? Because addiction is not something we can control as individuals. We can, however, treat it.


Why People Turn to Illegal Drugs

Addiction is not simply thrill-seeking – there are dozens of completely legal and very dangerous ways to cope with pain or get a high, but people do not just become addicted because they want the most economic or rational way out of the pain. If rationality or thinking had any part in the equation, most people would choose to work through the pain or stay sober to get a better grip on life.

Addiction is often the result of unfortunate circumstances, coupled with the right moments to create that slippery slope from the first high to a seemingly endless drug habit. Every case is unique, with its own set of reasons and factors, but no one in their right mind chooses addiction.

The operative terms being “right mind”. All it takes is a few mistakes – a lapse in faith, the pain of a major emotional loss, or simple teenage misguidedness – to turn a one-time thing into a serious problem. The reason teens are particularly at risk for developing an addiction is because in addition to an immortality complex, many teens do not have the brain development to completely think things through and realize the risks. Teens are also wired to perceive the internal reward system as more rewarding – meaning they are more inclined to go for something that makes them feel good.

For adults, there are many other reasons to turn to drugs. In recent years, the most obvious reasons are usually economic. While booze is the most typical and usually the cheapest way to deal with that kind of pain, others turn to more powerful and less legal methods of forgetting their problems. What might start as a single moment of weakness can evolve into a life-threatening issue.

Regardless of why people turn to illegal drugs, the dangers of these drugs are indiscriminate and far-reaching. Opiates and barbiturates can stop your breathing, cocaine, and methamphetamine can stop your heart, and long-term use of any illegal substance will usually scar and deteriorate the organs and cause much pain and damage. Yet, despite all that, breaking away from an addiction to illegal drugs is neither easy nor pleasant. But with today’s addiction treatment methods, almost any case has hope for long-term recovery.


Addiction is Treatable

Treating addiction starts with combatting the withdrawal and detox symptoms of the drug or drugs a person uses. Like any substance, it takes some time for the human body to completely metabolize a given drug. As an addictive drug passes through the body of someone who is addicted to it, they will often experience painful withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, these symptoms are like a bad flu, causing nausea and fevers. In other cases, they can be life-threatening.

As the withdrawal tapers off, the body begins to get used to living without the drug – but the mind continues to crave it. Addictive drugs manipulate the brain into wanting the drug more than almost anything else. While the body metabolizes a drug dose quickly – a few hours to a few days – cravings can last weeks, months, and years. They do get weaker over time, allowing for therapy and sheer willpower to eventually overcome the addiction.

Treatment options exist in many different varieties, all with the goal of helping a patient work through the physical symptoms of addiction withdrawal, and then walking them through the steps of recovering mentally as well. This can involve copious lifestyle changes, group therapy, and more, depending on what patients respond to.


More Than Just the Brain

Illegal drugs have many risks associated with them, including the risk of jailtime and serious health problems. However, drug use can have a serious effect on a person’s relationships, capabilities, and future as well. Many struggle to recovery from addiction out of fear that their life will never completely recover. While technically an illness, addiction is still treated as a moral and individual problem, heavily stigmatizing those unfortunate enough to spend time as a drug user.

However, while drug use can wreak havoc on relationships and end careers, it’s never too late to make amends and heal the wounds of prior mistakes. Through recovery, it’s possible – and often even necessary – to reconcile with old friends and family members and find a way through the pain of addiction rather than around or away from it.

The damage an addiction wreaks on a person’s life need never be permanent. It will take time and perseverance to undo years of hardship, but with a proper treatment program, a specialized clinic or sober living home, and the help of a professional therapist, it’s possible for any case to find its way to normalcy and enjoy a qualitative life long after addiction.


Symptoms of a Greater Problem

Addiction affects people on an individual level, and it affects people on a family level. But more than that, it causes over $120 billion in productivity losses per year, over 72,000 annual overdose deaths, and an innumerable amount of emotional damage throughout the country. More than any war or disease, the addiction to alcohol, prescription medication, and illegal drugs especially tears a massive gash through this country.

However, the answer is not to respond with violence or aimless prosecution. While drug production is an issue that must be combatted, there are other things families and communities can do to improve on the situation and reduce the impact drugs have across the country. Only roughly 11 percent of people with an alcohol or drug addiction seek treatment. While certain accessibility problems exist, that problem can be lobbied against.

Ultimately, treatment is the only way to get better. The war on drugs can’t fight the demand for them or help those currently living and struggling with addiction – but treatment plans and sober living homes can. If you or someone you know is struggle with addiction, get help.


You May Be Missing Sobriety and Not Even Realize It

Living A Sober Life

The benefits of sobriety are not immediately realized – and for many, the effort it takes to get sober and be sober may not seem worth the “reward”. However, even if you do not recognize your own addiction as a problem or see it as a choice you are willing to make, it is important to understand the full breadth of what you would be giving up by missing out on sobriety.

First, just to keep things clear: sobriety refers to being sober, which simply means not being intoxicated or inebriated. However, the key here is to maintain sobriety, sustaining that state of clear-headedness. Why? For a myriad of reasons. Here are just a few ways you may be missing sobriety, without even truly realizing it.


Ever Feel Physically Exhausted?

Addiction takes its toll on both the body and the mind, yet the body arguably bears the brunt of the damage in many cases. While the brain does go through major changes and brain damage is common in cases of excessive substance use, any addiction will cause your body to deteriorate and break down faster than it should.

Street drugs speed this process up, due to the impurity of the substance and the toxicity of any additives used in cutting it. However, even the abuse of legal drugs like alcohol or prescription medication like amphetamine can scar liver and heart tissue, lead to an unhealthy gut or excessive weight loss, and massively reduce both your life expectancy and your quality of life.

In the day-to-day, this is expressed by constantly feeling tired, in pain, or physically weak. Many experience insomnia as part of their addiction, especially when going through withdrawal. This can further cut into a person’s health, disrupting their sleeping cycle, and keeping their body from finding a healthy rhythm. If you find yourself regularly going through entire nights without sleep, then you may be dealing even more damage to the body.


Ever Feel Unbelievably Angry?

Mood swings are a common symptom of addiction, especially when life is not going so great, and drug use becomes the perfect way to escape. You may lose your temper, hurt those around you, or get yourself in trouble because of excessive risk-taking and a lack of regard for your own safety.

If you find your mood quickly and suddenly fluctuating from one extreme to the next, it can also suggest the onset of a mental illness due to the excessive drug use, caused by emotional pain or suppressed stress and anxiety.

It is healthy to feel things out, even if they are painful. We must complete the act of feeling something to be over it, from grief to pain to anger. Drugs let you bottle those emotions up, but that just builds the pressure for it all to violently explode.


Ever Feel Irrationally Scared?

Aside from anger, fear is another common emotion hidden behind addiction. Some see sobriety and society as restrictive and turn to drugs to experience true freedom and express themselves as they truly should. However, that is a flawed perception of why people turn towards drug use.

You do not need to be addicted to regularly use drugs – many people do to keep mellow or score a pick-me-up at the end of a tough week. However, negative emotions grow stronger when the habit turns into a chronic condition – under the effects of addiction, the fear and anger and shame that pushes many to continue using drugs as soon as they stop is extremely compelling, and almost shapes the day-to-day. Finally distancing yourself from that through prolonged recovery can be an eye-opener to how much fear and other negative emotions shape and define life while addicted.


Ever Feel Lonely?

Drug use often starts as a social thing, but addiction is very much a loner’s habit. Even among addicts, everyone remains individual, and the addiction itself makes it difficult to watch out for others and be there for one another. There also the argument that loneliness is a contributing factor to addiction, more than most people realize.

A big part of many treatment programs – such as sober living – is using large communities to reinstate that sense of togetherness and belonging, helping people fit back into friend groups and family by reminding them what it means to be among people who care about more than their own pain and the next possible high.


Sobriety is a Step

It may take some time and effort to get past the initial hump and into recovery proper, after the detoxification and withdrawal period is over. Once you take your first step towards staying sober, however, your life has the potential to drastically change for the better.

Addiction is a one-way road, always leading to the same destination without a change in scenery. But sobriety lets you enjoy life and gives you opportunities you would never come across while addicted. The opportunity to experience real joy, real connection, live and love with other people, and be a part of a meaningful community, something bigger than yourself.

None of that comes with the sobriety, but it is impossible without being sober. Addiction destroys friendships, erodes bonds and relationships, and removes the meaning from life. It makes living an endless chase after the next high, accentuated by painful crashes and a struggle to survive. While sobriety is not the promise of a better life, it is an important step in that direction. And the only way to get anywhere is by taking your first step and going on from there.

There will be stumbles. There will be times when you fall back rather than taking a striding step forward. Or you may be stuck in your recovery, feeling lost and unsure where life should go next. Being confident in yourself is a rare thing for many people with a history of long-term addiction, but it is an important goal, and it starts with letting others into your life and opening up to being helped and supported on the way. Seek out new friends and reconcile with friends and family.

Learn more about addiction and how others deal with it without drug use. Find ways to solve your problems rather than spending time in fear of them or getting away from them. And instead of letting your stumbles and relapses weigh you down and kill your journey, remember that they are only temporary lapses, and what matters most is your conviction to try again despite them.

Give sobriety a try for a few weeks and see how you feel. You might be surprised.


Anyone Has the Potential of Getting Addicted

Anyone Can Get Addicted

Roughly 6% of the total US population struggles with addiction – while that might not seem like a substantial amount of people, it is in fact around 21 million Americans, a number so high that it trumps to total combined number of patients struggling with a form of malignant cancer. In recent years, the threat of addiction to society has increased drastically with the opioid crisis – it is estimated that in the US, a person dies from an opioid overdose roughly every 19 minutes.

It’s a staggering problem, and not something solely attributable to a single fault or factor. To make a positive change against addiction, it’s important to understand what it is, and why it has grown so much in recent years.

Addiction is not just an individual’s issue, or a reflection of their actions and choices. It is a disease – and the way it manifests and changes the brain helps explain why it’s so incredibly difficult to break out of an addiction.


Why Some People Get Addicted and Others Don’t

To clarify, there are several forms of addiction. Behavioral addiction is different from substance addiction, and there are people who can be addicted to a certain drug not primarily because of a physical dependency on the substance, but an emotional reliance on it as a form of coping.

Gambling, sex, internet, food, and video game addictions are all real conditions that can be addressed and treated. But they are separate from addiction on a physical level. When someone is addicted to a drug, continuous drug use has tweaked their brains to process substances and emotions differently. What used to make a person happy might no longer interest them anymore, and nothing in their life may come close to providing the same pleasure as their drug or drugs of choice.

It is the difference between liking something, and perhaps wanting it, and feeling like you really need it. We may want to spend our time in a certain way or do a certain thing. But we need to drink, eat, sleep. Addiction does not equate entirely to something as fundamental as hunger and thirst, but a drug craving is closer to these primal needs than our hankering for a donut from time to time.

The specifics involve changes in brain chemistry and neural function brought about by continuous drug use, in the way neurotransmitters are released and processed in the brain, and so on. When a person is addicted, they are trapped in a cycle.

Not everyone has the same reasons for their addiction. Poverty, genetics, environmental stress (abuse, trauma) and pure circumstantial bad luck all factor into how an addiction may develop. Many people occasionally use drugs, from widely available and popular drugs like alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana, to illicit and prescription drugs like OxyContin and cocaine. But only some become addicted. Others grow out of their experimental phases and discontinue their drug use. Some die before an addiction can develop. And others yet continue using drugs like alcohol for decades without ever shown signs of addiction, such as a lack of control or destructive behavior.

There is no clear way to predict whether a person will get addicted or not – but there are factors that contribute to the risk of addiction. Heroin is more addictive than alcohol, and people who live under high amounts of pressure are more likely to misuse and abuse drugs than people who lead generally happy lives. But happy people can still get addicted – it is important never to forget that anyone can become an addict, given the right combination of factors.

If addiction is so dangerously prevalent and difficult to break, how could treatment possibly help? The answer is by cutting off the supply and starting a healing process. For some drugs, the only way out is through. In other cases, medicines exist to cut cravings and prevent drastic withdrawal symptoms, allowing for a safer and smoother process through early recovery.

However, no matter what a patient is on, going through detoxification and withdrawal is painful, and at times dangerous depending on the drugs involved. But it is a necessary process; it is the beginning of letting the mind and body heal from months or years of drug abuse. The brain never returns to a completely normal state after continuous drug use, but the cravings can be curbed and controlled, and a significant quality of life is possible without drugs.


How Years of Sobriety Can End

Recovery, as they say, never completely ends. Programs end, treatment plans come to an end, but staying clean and staying sober is a lifelong goal for an addict. And sometimes, there can be significant bumps in the road – even years after getting clean. High-profile celebrity relapses always serve as a cautionary tale to remind us that no one is exempt from potentially struggling with addiction, and even with the right resources, there are still times when a relapse just happens, and it can take weeks and months to recover. Demi Lovato’s recent overdose is a stark reminder that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing.

But just because relapses occur does not mean they are something to be feared. The antithesis to a life ruled by addiction is a happy life well-lived in embrace of sobriety. It can take a while for anyone with a history of addiction to find comfort in their sobriety and find out who they truly want to be – and until then, staying clean is a daily challenge. Rehab helps patients equip themselves with the therapeutic tools they need to stave off some of the temptation, but it’s the support system that patients create for themselves through friends and family that truly help them stay clean.

Sometimes that is not enough, and the pressure can just get too high. Sometimes the stress piles on, and a person falters. But what counts the most is that they get back on track right thereafter, rather than spiraling out of control.


It’s Important to Get Help

Over 21 million Americans struggle with drug abuse, but only about a tenth of that number seek help. The process to getting the help you need can be difficult depending on your circumstances, but without help, there is almost no way out of an addiction.

A real addiction is not something you can overcome with sheer stubborn willpower or determination – it’s a disease that requires professional assistance to diagnose, isolate, treat, and manage.

If you or someone you love is fighting with an addiction, don’t hesitate to look for help.


Overview of Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription Drug Abuse Meeting

Although the opioid crisis has highlighted the growing problem of overmedication and illegal sales of prescription drugs, prescription drug abuse is not a new issue. Substances with the potential for drug abuse have existed for centuries, coexisting both as medicine and as recreational drugs. However, regulating substances to curb their availability is a relatively new concept – separating prescription drug abuse from addiction to other legally-available or completely illicit drugs, such as alcohol or heroin respectively.

The Controlled Substances Act in 1970 first began classifying drugs based on medical potential and potential for abuse, distributing substances among five categories referred to as schedules. Before then, some doctors recognized that drugs like morphine could stop a patient from feeling pain, but often also led to a dependence on the drug. Addiction, while poorly defined, has long been accepted as a problem in the medical community, especially with powerful drugs such as opioids, stimulants, barbiturates, and depressants.

Today, there are hundreds of drugs regulated under the Controlled Substances Act. Some of these drugs are completely illegal and are not distributed save for very select research purposes – these are schedule I drugs. Other drugs are available for select medical treatments, through a prescription. Those drugs are called prescription drugs.


What is a Prescription Drug?

Prescription drugs, unlike over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, are controlled substances with psychoactive effects that help treat severe medical conditions. Ideally, prescription drugs are sold only to patients who need them, through a doctor’s recommendation in the form of a written and signed prescription.

Prescription medication includes different kinds of drugs, from stimulants to depressants, anti-depressants, opiates, anti-anxiety medication, barbiturates, and more. All prescription medication has a medical use – stimulants like amphetamine and methamphetamine are used to treat ADHD, while cocaine is used as a topical anesthetic, predominantly for nasal surgeries.

Not all prescription drugs share the same potential for abuse. Schedule V drugs have a low chance of being abused but are still dangerous enough to warrant the necessity of a prescription, meaning that the risk of abuse is higher than the benefit of making the drug available to all in the public. Schedule II drugs are much more dangerous – although all prescription drugs can lead to an addiction and an overdose, schedule II drugs are generally more addictive, and pose more of a danger for prescription drug abuse.


From Medicine to Recreation

Addictiveness or potential for drug abuse is defined by how people generally react to a drug. Not all psychoactive drugs qualify as possessing a potential for abuse. For example, caffeine is the most consumed psychoactive drug on the planet, yet a caffeine addiction is not treated as seriously as an addiction to many other substances because an addiction to caffeine does not present with the same self-destructive behavior as other addictions. An addiction is defined by a physical and/or emotional dependence on a substance, leading to self-destructive behavior and an inability to stop using despite clear negative consequences.

All prescription drugs are addictive because they manipulate the release of dopamine in the brain, and affect the mind in a myriad of ways, creating what is known as a “high”. This effect also changes the way the brain handles dopamine and its natural release, soon causing cravings and leading to an addiction, wherein a person chooses the drug over their usual schedules and activities.

Physical dependence refers to the changes made in the brain due to excessive and repetitive drug use. These changes cause a compulsive need for more drugs to maintain the “high”, including greater and greater doses to achieve the same euphoric effect due to growing drug tolerance. Trying to stop often causes symptoms of withdrawal in cases of physical dependence – these symptoms range from shivers and nausea to delirium, based on the drug and the level of drug use.


Treatment Options for Prescription Drug Abuse

Treating an addiction is a complicated manner, and it depends entirely on the patient, their drug or drugs of choice, and several other factors that influence the addiction and how it should be treated, including other existing mental health issues, the origin of said issues, the family history with addiction and other illnesses, socioeconomic factors, trauma and stress events in the past, and many other considerations.

Addiction treatment today is a highly specialized field that requires a thorough and in-depth look into each patient’s life, to help determine the best approach. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment, although many treatment options are explored across several different kinds of addiction, from alcoholism to opioid dependence.

There are certain drug-specific considerations. Cocaine, for example, is a stimulant much like methamphetamine, but cocaine is metabolized much more quickly, while it takes longer for meth to get out of the system. Alcohol is less addictive than heroin, but withdrawal symptoms for alcohol and other depressants can be fatal, while a heroin withdrawal is rarely if ever fatal, usually involving flu-like symptoms and nausea.

Overdose treatments are very different depending on what drug was taken. Opioid antagonists like naloxone can save a life if the patient is overdosing on an opioid, but alcohol poisoning is combatted through hydration, assisted breathing, and sometimes hemodialysis or stomach pumping to remove as much of the alcohol from the system as possible.

If you struggle with prescription drug abuse, then seek help. Your treatment program will adapt to your type of addiction, and most facilities will do their best to cater to your needs. Several different types of facilities exist to help patients in different parts of their recovery – residential clinics to provide a controlled and drug-free environment, outpatient programs that help patients maintain sobriety while going about their daily lives through regular therapy sessions, and sober living homes where tenants live together in a drug-free environment, sharing responsibilities and continuing to work or study for a living.

Getting help is the first step you need to take toward a better future. What kind of help you need is best determined by you after a thorough consultation with a medical professional.


You Can’t Get Sober Unless You Choose to Do So

Enjoying sobriety

It is said across the globe that the first step in recovery towards getting sober and staying sober is accepting that you have a problem – and naming it. By standing up and declaring yourself addicted, you acknowledge that there is a long road ahead and you face it, ready to stride forward into uncertainty. While the first step never guarantees that you make it any further than that, what it does guarantee is that you at least got to the most important bit – the part where you understand that you have an addiction, and must fight  it.

However, what is addiction? Is it a disease, or is it a choice? In addition, if it is a disease, why do you need to choose to be sober? On the surface, it is all a bit confusing. However, if you delve in just a little bit deeper, you will realize that the line between where addiction becomes a disease and stops being a choice is very clear.

Today, we are going to talk about addiction and choice, the relationship between the two, and how your choices both landed you in this mess, and are vital to getting you out. Like any clinic or professional setting, this article is free from judgment or moral condemnation. No one goes through life without making regrettable choices, and while an addiction begins as a set of bad choices, most make these choices while in a state of mind incapable of looking ahead towards the looming consequences. It is much like making a deal with the devil in your most desperate hour.


Addiction and Choice

In most cases, addiction begins with the choice to do drugs. For teens, that choice is often heavily influenced by a potent combination of peer pressure and raging hormones. For adults, it may be a desperate choice made to seek instant relief from a soul crushing and emotionally unbearable situation, the only alternative to suicide. Addictions unfortunately often start in places of abject misery and suffering, but they remain choices. Regrettable choices that led addicts down their path of dependence, but choices nonetheless.

The trouble comes when people begin to moralize these choices, and apply punishment in place of what should be compassion. Using drugs to cope with a terrible time in your life is not a heinous act, but a sad one, and one that needs to be addressed with help and treatment.

Once an addiction kicks in, however, the element of choice is largely removed. It takes a lot of willpower to decide to get sober, and even then, sobriety is not something most people achieve on their own. Yes, you have to choose to be sober – it is a difficult road, and if you do not passionately want to stay clean, then you will have a hard time staying clean.

However, that choice does not immediately absolve you from addiction – it only points you in the right direction. Rehab programs, sober living homes, support groups and countless other resources exist to help addicts find the support they need to stay clean long enough to be in control again.

That is where choice returns. After early rehab, after the first few weeks, the only thing between you and a permanent regression back into constant addiction is the choice to stay sober. That choice must prevail and stay strong, even through relapses, setbacks, emotional pain, and hardship. Once you get clean, staying clean does become a matter of willpower – even with friends at your side, you have to pick sobriety every waking day.

At first, that might seem impossible. Being sober is not nearly as fun as being high, to the uninitiated. However, you can make choosing to be sober a little easier by improving what it means to be sober.


How to Stay Sober Long Term

Maintaining long-term sobriety is a matter of owning your sober life. Yes, choosing sobriety over addiction is a first step, but you have to convince your brain that being sober is so much better than being addicted. For that to happen, you have to give your brain time to forget the addiction, while simultaneously introducing your brain to as much new stuff in sobriety as possible, until something sticks.

Fun is important. We need fun in order to manage stress and move on with our lives without running straight into a brick wall. Finding a source of physical fun, and a way to keep yourself mentally occupied can do wonders for your recovery. Go to the gym, go dancing, pick up water sports, or try any of a dozen different activities to see what you like best and can do consistently. Then, consider your creative needs. Do you prefer writing, sculpting, woodworking, drawing, and painting? Whatever it is, pursue it with fervor.

More than just finding ways to kill the time, doing things you truly enjoy counts as a form of therapy, and can drastically help improve your recovery – and keep you sober.


A Disease with a Cure

Addiction is a disease rather than a choice because physical and emotional dependence hijacks the very functions of the brain dedicated to making choices. Your cognitive abilities are diminished, your capacity for thinking ahead and calculating risks is dwindling, and on top of the slow buildup of brain damage, the chemical mechanism for motivation and willpower is eroded and replaced with a cycle of highs and lows.

However, as heinous as this disease is, it also has a cure. This is important, because understanding that there is hope for a time when you do not have to worry about relapsing any more means making that choice to stay sober is a lot easier. Sobriety is not an exercise in futility, and it does not make every day into a constant battle between your addicted side and your sober side.

Yes, treatment is difficult, and things start out rocky. However, if you stick to the treatment, get professional help, make new friends and hobbies, and find a way to enjoy your new sober life, you will find that it gets easier over time, and eventually you will have your addiction under complete control. There is no definitive timeline. How long it takes to overcome addiction depends on each individual. That is why it is easier to focus on finding work and a passion, and putting your mind towards improving on both ends. Time flies when you are having fun and working hard, and the less time you spend worrying about the days and weeks you have spent in sobriety, the less time you have to worry about holding out until the cravings get easier to resist.


Approaching An Addict About Their Addiction

Helping Friends & Family

Addiction is something roughly 21 million Americans struggle with. It is a disease that changes the way people think and feel, making it difficult to recovery alone. Addiction treatment is centered on bringing people away from drugs and drug use, and into an environment conducive towards physical and mental healing.

However, despite the sheer size of addiction in America, only a fraction get the professional help they need. There are many reasons why, including a lack of resources and healthcare, a fear of being stigmatized for their condition, or a lack of knowledge on how recovery works and how it can truly help.

Yet aside from the millions of adult Americans who struggle with substance abuse, there are countless more fighting to keep their families together and find a way to bring their loved ones the help they need. In fact, nearly half of the US adult population has a close friend or family member who is or was struggling with drugs and addiction. Over the course of just about sixteen years, drug overdose deaths have more than tripled, and addiction continues to be a dangerous issue for American society.

If you are worried that your friend or loved one is an addict, then approaching them about their condition is important, but it is no easy task. Here’s what you need to do.


Find the Right Time

The first step to approaching someone about their addiction is to find the right time to do so. Make sure you’re both in a comfortable place, preferably alone or outside of earshot, and best of all, at a time when nothing else is providing any distractions. If you can’t find a good time as is, try and arrange one by going out on a lunch date or going shopping and grabbing something to eat along the way.

Aside from finding a time and place, it’s important to find the right state of mind. Sobriety is important here, as you want as little irrational thinking as possible.


Calm and Compassionate

How you approach is just as important as when and where. You know best what words to use with your friend or loved one, but the tone is where it really counts. Be calm, receptive, and compassionate. Coming from an angle of judgment or anger, or timid fear, will immediately set the situation up for failure.

Coming across as a concern troll – someone who fakes concern to apparently invite an open discussion, only to devolve into shaming – will also make your words fall on flat ears. Be honest and open, but do not load your message with unnecessary aggression. Discuss the specific behavior that you’ve noticed as problematic and give them time to explain how they feel and why they’re struggling.


Suggest Getting Help

Be sure to do your research beforehand to know what’s available in your area and suggest going to a clinic or a professional for a diagnosis and some treatment.

If your friend or loved one is not receptive to the idea even after discussing and acknowledging the addiction, then it may be time to tackle the issue with more than just a single conversation.


Consider Planning an Intervention

An intervention can help you launch a person’s recovery – but if done badly, an intervention could also permanently ruin your relationship to them, or even push them away from the family.

Don’t ambush or attack your loved one. A good intervention is a structured and adult conversation, rather than a bombardment of criticisms and complaints. Explain, rather than accuse. Team up with other friends and family and bring examples to the table to help convince the addict that they have a problem that cannot be ignored. Pose treatment not as a forced exile, but as a solution you can all work on together for a better life. Propose solutions like family therapy and group treatment and be involved in the recovery rather than simply pushing them off into a clinic while turning your back on the problem.


Do Your Homework

The better you understand what addiction is, the better you can help in combatting it. Many make the mistake of trying to help without first understanding how to help – and in turn, they end up doing more damage than good. For one, misunderstanding what addiction as a disease may mean could lead to making false judgments about both the condition and your friend or family member.

Furthermore, while certain aggressive forms of encouragement – such as criticism – might work on occasion applied personally or in certain situations, it is not a valid form of support when tackling addiction. There are some things an addict needs to hear to get better but hammering them with criticisms and judgment is more likely to lead to increased self-loathing and a stronger withdrawal-relapse cycle, rather than any sort of life-changing revelation.

By understanding what addiction is and what it is not, you can better understand why applying optimism, compassion, and a warm-hearted approach works wonders in comparison to tough love and constant criticism. In most cases, addicts already know that their behavior is bad and harmful, and their conscience needs no help reminding them of this as often as possible. By pointing out the positive aspects of their recovery, and the small victories they are making along the way, you can encourage them to think about their progress as something positive, rather than too little too late.


Create Boundaries

Helping your loved one conquer an addiction is not only noble, it’s incredibly difficult. However, many take their loved one’s troubles onto themselves, often forgetting to take care of their own needs in the process. While it’s understandable that you want to help your friend, partner or child through this time in their life, you need to understand that an important part of recovery is learning to master sobriety on your own two feet.

You will not help your loved one through this chapter of their life by hounding them, or by making their recovery your challenge. You can help them, support them, and guide them onto the first step of their journey. But at a certain point you have to take a step back and let them take care of the rest.

Do not let the stress of your loved one’s recovery overwhelm you as well. Take measures to ensure that while they’re fighting for their sobriety, you’re working on maintaining your sanity. Stress management is not just something to consider while combatting an addiction – everyone needs a regular respite from stress.

The road to getting better is a long one, but it does not have a predetermined length. It may take weeks or years for your loved one to overcome their addiction. All you can do is make sure they have someone to fall back on when things become overwhelming.