Addiction vs. Recovery
It is often said that no one sets out to become an addict. Most addictions begin innocently enough as a person tries something, enjoys the effects, and continues to use for recreational purpose. Or else a person is prescribed sleep or pain medication as a primary means for dealing with insomnia or chronic pain and then there is little oversight or additional therapies provided to manage the original underlying issue.
The challenge with addiction is that it’s not obvious who will become an addict and who will not. It is a very real example of playing Russian Roulette with one’s life.
Other Challenges of Addiction
Addiction is often subtle and gradual as it develops over time. It may take years before changes in the brain and behavior occur, often developing into chemical dependency before they realize they’ve become addicted. By the time most people realize there’s a problem, the situation often looks futile. Addiction causes isolation from loved ones, loss of pleasure in activities they once enjoyed, and increasing difficulty in managing day-to-day responsibilities; often not showing up for work or school. Shame and guilt become a reality, which is relieved only by more substance use.
Drinking/using may have worked to relax, sleep, or have fun, but now no longer works, or requires more and more to achieve the same effect. Tragically, a person often finds themselves doing things they would never imagine doing in order to maintain their drug or alcohol habit.
Dignity and self-respect erodes.
Physical health issues start to occur as the body becomes so inundated with the drug that it can no longer self regulate; withdrawals and DTs occur more frequently, sleep is severely disrupted, and a person is often physically sick, shaking, vomiting, irritable and emotionally explosive or depressed.
Addiction obscures the hope that there is any other way to live life, cope with stress, handle responsibilities or problems, or even enjoy oneself naturally.
Drinking/drug use appears to become the only way to deal with anything, even and especially when that person wants to stop.
“I’m Living a Life I Could Have Never Imagined.”
A life of recovery can be rich beyond the imagination. Learning to feel again, to take pleasure in simple activities, to wake up and feel healthy and rested in the morning are only a few of the many benefits of becoming sober. Freedom from the constant, relentless mental obsession with alcohol or drugs, allows the the mind and heart to relax and open up to the world around you. Meaningful human connections and relationships become important again, and a profound shift occurs in the person when the people around them start to trust them again. A person can take action and participate in activities that build a sense of dignity and self-respect rather than shame and self-hatred. The mind and body can heal, and the once-addicted person is capable of change.
Stepping forward into a life of recovery, a person is finally able to live a life full of all the potential they are capable of, all the potential they could never imagine before.
And don’t worry, you don’t have to enter treatment with this commitment already in place. Addiction is a gradual process, and so is recovery. Doing the work of recovery takes time and persistence, and the recognition that you are human and will make mistakes and that’s okay- That’s how a person learns what works and what doesn’t work. The promises and the rewards of sobriety will grow and deepen your recovery, and you will pursue it as passionately as you once pursued drugs and alcohol. Today, you can do something different.