It’s not easy to convince oneself that everything is going to be ‘fine’, especially with addiction. More than just the urge to use drugs, addiction is a complex condition that can be accurately described as a brain disease, a mental disorder, and a treatable yet debilitating problem. For too many, addiction inspires fear and judgment. Addicts are too often seen as worthless to society, leeching off others and providing nothing but problems. However, addicts are still people, and no matter how far gone they might seem, there’s always still hope that they can be helped to live and feel like normal human beings again.
If you or someone you know ever struggled with an addiction, then you’ll know that most of what people think and say about drug addicts is false at best, and deeply hurtful at worst. One of the reasons so few addicts get the help they need is because they’re ashamed of themselves, and are scared of going clean, fearing that treatment just won’t work and they’ll be made to confront all their feelings rather than pursuing the next opportunity to go numb again. There are many other reasons, but stigma and self-stigma are two very powerful factors that come into play again and again.
To help an addict see the light at the end of the tunnel, they must be made to understand that they are not alone in this journey, and that treatment is always an option.
A Whole Community Awaits
You are not alone. Roughly 21 million US adults are estimated to struggle with drug addiction in a given moment. A significant portion of that statistic is in recovery: a survey in 2012 showed that, at the time, a whopping 23.5 million adult Americans – one in ten – went through recovery and were no longer using after struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction.
Every day, millions of individuals rally together in group meetings or sober living homes to talk about the challenges they’ve faced, and how they worked to overcome them, or how they failed, and learned from their failures to do better in the future.
Recovery isn’t just possible – it’s necessary. The only way to move past an addiction is to seek and maintain sobriety or succumb to the effects of long-term drug use. Thankfully, this is not a journey you have to venture on alone. Through online recovery resources, local recovery groups, sober living homes, rehab clinics, professional addiction specialists, and therapists, you can have access to as much or as little help as you need for your long-term sobriety.
The hardest part is making that first leap to start your recovery. Rehab clinics are a good place to start, as they are often prepared with the personnel and equipment to lead an addict through withdrawal, early recovery, and the transition into a sober life.
How Addiction Treatment Works
Many addicts struggle to have faith in addiction treatment, especially if they feel overwhelmed by their addiction and don’t quite understand how it functions. While it is true that we haven’t quite found a pill to turn addiction ‘off’, there are various forms of medication, therapy, and treatment techniques to address each and every kind of drug addiction currently imaginable.
For certain types of addiction, medication can be used to wean an addict off their drug of choice and make it easier to transition into recovery, in contrast to going ‘cold turkey’ and experiencing extreme withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Medication also exists to counteract the effects of certain drugs, making it impossible to get high, essentially rendering a substance as useless to an addict. Such medication can also be used to save lives in the case of an overdose, in some cases.
Special forms of therapy and rigorous lifestyle changes are used to help an addict better understand why they became addicted, how to identify and avoid the behaviors and activities that make them want to use drugs again and reinforce better habits that help undermine addiction in the brain. Both one-on-one talk therapy and group therapy can help a recovering addict feel better about their condition and learn to avoid thoughts and situations that further feed the addiction. Outside of rehab, other post-rehab programs are used to help recoverees further develop the mental fortitude needed to succeed in sober life, through sober living homes, outpatient recovery programs, and more.
The Benefits of Paying It Forward
Redemption is a powerful thing, especially in the eyes of oneself, as we’re likely to have more debts to our own conscience than to anyone else. Because of the staying power that stigma commands in a person’s life, it’s important to seek out ways to eradicate that shame and guilt. One effective path is to simply do good. There is no easier way to prove to yourself that you still have the potential to be a positive influence in the lives of others – especially those you love – than to do good. And one way in which all recovering addicts can do good is by helping other addicts take the first steps to recovery.
Through group meetings, through talking about the challenges you faced and overcome, through writing about your experiences and educating addicts and their families about the truth of addiction and how it can be overcome, you can make a slow and steady difference in the world around you and change the lives of countless people for the better. All it takes is to convince just one person that they should consider giving sobriety and recovery treatment an honest try. The positive repercussions of such an act are often immense. And finally, it just feels good to do good. We’re not exactly a species to be morally exalted, but there is some truth to the notion that altruism has its place in human nature. And doing your part to shape your community for the better can leave you feeling reinvigorated with faith in your own capacity to do selfless things, despite a seemingly selfish past.