Those who are not sympathetic or do not know a lot about the trials of addiction, may think addicts simply choose to do drugs and abuse alcohol, yet those under the power of substances, along with those trying to help them, know that it’s not so simple. It’s not a choice such as deciding to drink orange versus milk. The brain of an addict is hijacked by their substance of choice. It takes great inner strength and dedication to overcome addiction and to win the brain back.
Breaking the Cycle
It’s not the reasons that people use substances that is the problem. All humans want to seek reward, comfort, and escape stress and anxiety. However, while some people seek that end through surfing, others drink vodka or snort cocaine. The result is the same, but the means to the end is very different. A surfer gets exercise, learns to respect nature, and finds enjoyment in a hobby that won’t destroy their life. Some cycles associated to finding comfort are healthy and others are not. Addicts need to break the cycle of using particular means to find happiness. In many cases, addicts don’t know any other way to attain that level of enjoyment though many alternatives and ‘natural highs’ exist.
Preparing for Change
Change is a process. It takes time and energy to alter one’s life. To start, addicts must remind themselves why they want to change. If they have quit in the past or have lived a healthy life before, they must remember what made them stop using or what activities made them not think about abusing drugs and alcohol. Thinking about it is important but setting a date to quit is needed. To premeditate the action of stopping, all reminders and triggers must be removed from one’s work and homelife. Lastly, an addict must inform close friends and family members about their decision to quit. Obviously, those who presently use, though considered friends or family, don’t have the strength to ultimately support an addict; those using may purposely or accidentally thwart the act of quitting.
Seeing Beyond the Drugs and Alcohol
Stopping the abuse of drugs and alcohol is essential but recovering from addiction involves much more, seeing beyond the substance, getting at the reason(s) an addict chooses to escape or feels depressed. It can be low self esteem, a disturbed childhood, or a reason that is not readily available to the addict. Recovery involves professional counseling and peers support. In many cases, going through recovery with others helps a person feel supported while inspiring others too. Many people find solace in the acceptance of friends and family members. Unfortunately, some addicts don’t have family or healthy friends to support them, yet when they get help, they will meet a trove of people who have the mindset and desire to help. For example, ARC rehab for alcohol helps people as individuals and in group settings.
Developing New Behaviors
Psychologist, Ivan Pavlov, was the father of classical conditioning, introducing the world to the concept of learned behaviors. He conditioned dogs to salivate upon hearing a bell, the dogs knowing food followed the sound. Done enough times, the dogs salivated at the bell alone, a learned response. Human brains work in similar ways. Using drugs and alcohol to escape problems and feel good are learned behaviors, but an addict can unlearn. A person can also develop new behaviors. Returning to the surfer described above, the person is likely to feel happy, healthy, and occupied due to the pastime. Of course, endless behaviors can be healthy and learned, including walking for enjoyment, reading a book to escape, and spending time with friends and family to feel relaxed.
Staying Away from Triggers
It’s important to stay away from triggers or reminders at the onset of quitting, yet it needs to be permanent. Triggers can be people, places, and things. For example, a friend who is currently using may entice someone who is trying to recover; returning to a part of the city where drugs are readily available is a trigger; and, feeling angry or depressed may trigger a former addict to seek a quick fix as a solution. A person who is recovering must learn to stay away from triggers, or in the very least, recognize them. For example, a person in recovery may keep contact with a friend who is a user, but understand that time and activity with them must be limited.
Addiction is not a bad habit but more like a disease. A disease that can be cured but it takes time, effort, and a lot of inner strength and external support.
Lynn Hiers became a prescription drug addict after a sports injury during college. The problem only became worse when she started work after college and was confined to working at a desk for prolonged periods of time. Lynn finally sought help to recover from her addiction which she has been free from for over 7 years now. Her online posts are a way for her to reach out to other sufferers that may be going through dark times.