The only moment in time when an addiction is truly too much to recover from is when it causes a person to lose their life. But until that moment comes, every second is another opportunity to start the recovery process. No life is too far gone to heal, no matter what others might think.
Addiction stories are highly individual and each one is unique, but they always have a few things in common. Chief among them is the fact that addiction spirals out of control. One day, a teen might pop a tab of molly after a few weeks of drinking. Five years later, they might be in an ER for their second heroin overdose, with no place to stay and no friends or partners to speak of.
The extent to which addiction can lead to tragedy and total devastation is well known. Yet for many of those people who find themselves recounting such life-threatening experiences at the hands of an uncontrollable addiction and constant state of depression, life also eventually changed. They found a purpose, reason, or moment wherein things pivoted, and they finally embraced sobriety. And years after the fact, they can look upon those memories and see them as teaching moments on a long path of struggles and challenges.
No matter how bad things get, sobriety is always an option. Recovery is always an option. But the journey is going to be different for each person. The why and how will be different for everyone. And in many cases, it’s important to show a resilience to failure and expect many setbacks.
It’s Never Too Late
Drug addiction develops as a progressive disorder, feeding on a person’s unwillingness to seek help by pushing them into isolation and profiting off the subsequent despair. It’s in our worst moments that we seek comfort, and for an addict, that comfort is often the contents of a pill, needle, or pipe. And when that comfort wears off and leaves nothing but a gaping hole and even more pain, the most attractive way to cope ends up being more drug use.
This self-destructive and nigh-perpetual cycle doesn’t have to go on forever, though. By seeking professional help, any addict can seize the opportunity to get better, regardless of how far they feel they’ve fallen, and regardless of how far away the light might seem.
Rather than giving up on the possibility of recovery, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that it is possible for anyone to recover, given the right support and compassion.
You Don’t Have to Wait
For some, there’s a misconception about addiction that the best time to seek help is once you’ve hit ‘rock bottom’, and that until then, it isn’t effective to either get help for yourself or engage in an intervention for a loved one. While it’s true that different people come to different conclusions during ‘moments of clarity’, the real best time to get help for an addiction is as soon as possible. Waiting for the rock bottom does no one any favors and is more likely to end in tragedy.
Any story of addiction can end in a triumphant recovery. It’s never a pretty story, and there are always elements of regret and guilt to every addict’s journey, but no matter how far one has fallen, recovery is possible at every single junction. Sometimes, it takes certain events for a person to finally learn the lessons they need to learn in order to successfully commit to recovery and stay sober. Sometimes, recovery begins and ends in relapse, several times over, before long-term sobriety eventually becomes realized.
Nevertheless, no matter what kind of journey any given individual in recovery is going to experience, the single most important thing is to never give up on the goal of completely overcoming the past and living a healthy and successful drug-free life. No matter how many years it takes, no matter how many attempts one goes through, the hope recovery only dies when the recovering addict gives up.
The First Weeks
The first few weeks are often the hardest, and they’re critical in the sense that they can make or break a person’s recovery, either propelling them into months and years of sobriety, or leading them slowly into a total breakdown and return to old habits.
It’s important to stick to strictly structured forms of recovery in those first few weeks, as it becomes increasingly difficult to rely on your will when you’re bombarded by drastic mood shifts, overwhelming cravings and deeply uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms as a result of your decision to go live drug-free and get clean. A sober living home or rehab clinic can put you in touch with the medical attention you need to make it through the worst of withdrawal, before relocating you to a facility where you get to live with others who have gone through similar journeys of addiction in their lives, with unique perspectives and circumstances.
For many, that’s a big wake up call. Knowing you’re not alone can make a big difference in recovery, but it’s also interesting and helpful to hear other people speak about addiction and further explain how they were able to deal with challenges similar to those that you have faced, are facing, or likely will face. There is much to be learned from the experiences of others in recovery, despite the differences you might find.
Even among the more diligent, it’s fairly common to relapse within the first twelve months. Rather than a sign of weakness, relapses are part of the recovery process. They highlight the point that physical dependence and addiction are progressive, chronic illnesses, requiring intensive and ongoing treatment.
Because addiction also affects people so individually, a relapse is a good opportunity to discover what may be lacking in your addiction treatment. With the help of a therapist, a relapse can be turned into a learning experience, a lesson to further improve and solidify your commitment to sobriety.
Why Ongoing Support Is Critical
Even after all the programs, sober living experiences, and rehab therapy sessions are over, ongoing support matters. Whether just through friends and family, or through group meetings, local recovery organizations, or continued help from a professional, ongoing support is what keeps every recoveree on track for years to come.
It’s easy to eventually lose sight of what you’ve learned during recovery and fall back onto old ways when the going gets really tough, which is why it’s important to have safeguards in place to help keep you from that path whenever you might feel tempted. While it does get easier to resist the temptation of addiction the longer you stay sober, especially if you’ve been building a sober life for yourself, we all need support to make it through the bad weeks, addiction or no.