While accepting addiction and starting the fight is not easy for many, most people who have spent months and years fighting an addiction agree that the hard part isn’t quitting but staying clean.
Life without drugs is hard for the simple reason that once you use addictive drugs consistently, the brain begins to get a little spoiled. Drugs are meant to make you feel good, and when that experience becomes commonplace, stepping down is neither easy nor does it seem wholly logical from a short-term perspective.
Once you consider the social, legal, and long-term health repercussions of being addicted to drugs, it becomes clear that staying addicted is not sustainable, and certainly not a good idea. However, to the base mind, drugs are an exceptionally quick and easy way to feel amazing, and giving that up takes both time, discipline, and a very solid alternative.
It is not easy – but it is certainly doable. You can lead a fulfilling and joyous life entirely without drugs, but the journey to getting there is unpredictable and can be any given length. Some people are lucky to give it up, stay clean, and get to a point in their life where addiction ceases to be a daily problem quite quickly, over the course of a few months. Others struggle for years, eventually finding a balance and a mindset they can live with. However, regardless of how long it takes or where you end up, it all starts the same.
The first step is knowing you have a problem, and quitting. Denial is a common issue for many who struggle with drug use because admitting an addiction does not do wonders for your image, and it is naturally difficult to admit when we are wrong or genuinely at fault. However, things get a little worse before they get better, and part of cutting drugs out of your life is admitting that you struggle with an addiction and need help.
This is an important distinction to simply admitting that drugs have become a problem in life. Some people acknowledge that their drug use has become a destructive behavior, leading to strife and drama, yet they refuse to seek help, instead trying ways to fight the addiction alone.
Yet in most cases, this is futile. Addiction is addiction because it often takes a little more than just sheer willpower to overcome the issue – it takes professional treatment, designed to fight the addiction as a disease rather than a temporary character flaw or moral judgment.
Accepting help is an important part of getting clean and getting started on the road to recovery. Professional help can get you or your loved one into a position of strength for the challenges ahead – not only do most treatment plans begin with a drug-free environment, but early recovery is often centered around helping patients navigate addiction and their own struggles with the disease, providing a greater understanding of what addiction is (and why it counts as a disease), and helping them explore their own feelings and emotions without drugs.
Drug use is not just used to feel better, but often it is used to avoid feeling bad. All that can compound and become drastically worse when the drugs go away, leading to a torrent of terrible emotions and strong mood swings. Treatment can help patients deal with these early recovery challenges.
It’s Tough to Have Fun
A big part of life without drugs is learning how to enjoy life without drugs. Life is meant to be enjoyable at times – being happy all the time is not sustainable but being consistently miserable for long periods of time is not a good way to live, either. Balance is important, and without drugs, life can at first seem bleak and hostile.
To many, drugs act as a coping mechanism for many of life’s challenges and struggles, thus leading to difficulty coping early on – as responsibilities begin to pile up and stress comes into play, the cravings for drugs grow stronger in response.
We need ways to cope with stress, deal with depression, and feel better about ourselves and our lives. Drugs are not the answer – so we need healthy and sustainable alternatives. Everyone’s set of alternatives is different and for different reasons. Some people enjoy exercising and sports, while others enjoy spending time in a study, pondering over problems or designing buildings, projects, or artworks.
Whatever it is that makes you feel passionate, pursue it. And if you do not know what it is, try everything out until you find something interesting. This is often the biggest challenge of the early recovery period: finding something to help you cope with sobriety.
Learning from Relapses
Ideally, the goal is not to relapse. But many do anyway, for a myriad of reasons. Relapsing is not the end of the world, and it does not mean you failed your recovery – instead, it is an opportunity to learn more about your own addiction, to learn more about your triggers and weaknesses, and to learn more about how best to avoid another relapse in the future.
Optimism is critical when facing the aftermath of a relapse, and you must look past the dread and the blame and the fear of a repeated relapse, and instead look towards the possibility of learning how to improve your recovery, fortify your sobriety, and learn from this as much as possible.
Help is Crucial
Again – it is important to drive home that help matters. Not just professional help but help from all around. From friends, family, and community. No one can walk your path of recovery for you or convince you to want to be sober. It is your own strength of will that keeps you sober, especially on the bad days.
But there are times when your strength is not enough, and you need some help. Either motivation, through speeches and hugs, or just a day where you can go to a trusted friend and be distracted from your cravings.
Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it, especially early on. Over time, life without drugs gets easier – but the beginning is always brutal.