It takes a lot of guts to face up to drug addiction. Sobriety may seem like an impossible, unattainable goal, but recovery is never out of reach.
Change is scary, but change is possible, and you have it within you to kick the habit. Addiction is NOT a life sentence.
Step One: Decide to Make A Change.
Deciding to make a change is the most challenging part for most addicts. Giving up the comfort of your drug of choice, facing a change, and realizing that many things will have to change to work the path toward recovery can seem daunting and scary.
Preparing For Change:
1) Keep track of your reasons for changing.
2) Set specific, measurable and attainable goals, like a quit date.
3) Consider past attempts to kick the habit (if applicable) and what about those attempts worked and didn't work.
4) Build a support network of friends and family to help you through this change.
5) Get rid of reminders of your addiction from your home, car, and workplace.
Step Two: Treatment Options
Treatment should focus not only on your addiction but on any other problems and mental illnesses you may have. There is no single treatment that works for every person and therefore your treatment should be tailored to your specific needs. Treatment requires commitment and follow-through.
There are many places to look for help for addiction treatment and recovery. Not every addict requires extensive detox and weeks in rehabilitation centers.
To find a treatment center, call toll-free, 1-800-662-HELP, to reach a free referral helpline from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Step Three: Support Network
Make recovery support group meetings a priority. If you had time to go to the bar or get high, you have time to make it to meetings where you can find many people who understand what you're going through and how to best support you.
Having close family and friends is invaluable for someone in addiction recovery. Make sure to build a sober social network to replace any non-sober networks. Consider living in a sober-living home (especially if you don't have a stable, safe, drug-free home environment) during the recovery period.
Step Four: Manage Stress
Drug use and abuse may be triggered initially by unhealthy attempts to self-medicate with drugs and/or alcohol to relieve stress. To combat substance abuse and addiction, one must learn other ways to manage stress. Some of these include:
- Exercise - which releases endorphins (the bodies "feel good" hormones)
- Yoga and meditation
- Calming music
- Petting your animal
- Soak in a hot, relaxing bath
- Try smelling fresh flowers or coffee beans.
Step Five: Controlling Cravings and Triggers
Controlling Triggers may include:
- Avoiding bars and clubs.
- Breaking up with old drug buddies.
- Telling any medical professionals about your history of drug addiction up front so you can work together to find an alternative means of controlling any type of pain or discomfort.
- Using prescription drugs, especially those with a high potential for abuse (sleeping pills, painkillers, anti-anxiety medications) with extreme caution.
Handling Drug Cravings
- Talk to someone about your craving while in the middle of it.
- Change your thoughts and challenge formerly held beliefs. It's easier to remember the positive aspects of drug use and not the negative ones. Make a list (or look at a list) of benefits and consequences if it helps to remind you of why you quit.
- Urge Surf - imagine yourself as a surfer riding the wave of a drug craving, staying on top of it until it crests, breaks and turns into foam.
- Distract yourself while in the middle of a craving. Read a book, go jogging, focus your attention on something else until the urges subside.
- Don't resort to junk food as an alternative - it will only add stress and pounds.
Step Six: Build a Meaningful Drug-Free Life
- Adopt a pet. Pets are wonderful at making you feel loved, needed and wanted.
- Find a new hobby.
- Get involved in your community - replace your addiction with other wholesome activities. Volunteer, join a club, or become active in your neighborhood.
- Take care of your health.
- Set meaningful, attainable goals to work toward.
Step Seven: Relapse Happens
Relapse is a very common (albeit frustrating and discouraging) part of the recovery from substance abuse. Consider it an opportunity to revamp your treatment plan and learn from mistakes.
Relapse does NOT mean you failed. Get back on the wagon, call your sponsor and your therapist, go to a meeting and don't beat yourself up for it.
Common Relapse Triggers:
- Physical discomfort
- Feeling happy
- Testing personal control
- Urges and temptations
- Fights and conflicts with others
- Social pressures
Recovery 12-Step Groups:
The most common support program for recovery from many addictions and other mental issues is based on the 12-step (Anonymous) programs. All 12 step programs are based on the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program which was founded in 1935 and based on the premise that the only way for a person to overcome his addiction to alcohol was to reach out and talk to other people who are struggling with recovery.
In 1953, Narcotics Anonymous was granted permission to use the AA format and after that there was an explosion of groups that tailored the 12-step program to their particular type of recovery. Today, the 12-step programs (also known as the Anonymous Programs) cover almost every addiction and mental condition.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, you may find help or advice with one of these programs. The websites for each program typically includes various useful information about the disease, the program itself, and links to local meeting schedules.
Here is a list of programs with links to their websites where applicable:
- Alcoholics Anonymous, (AA)
- Narcotics Anonymous, (NA)
- Gamblers Anonymous, (GA)
- Marijuana Anonymous (MA)
- Workaholics Anonymous (WA)
- Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA)
- Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA)
- Emotions Anonymous (EA)
- Food Addicts Anonymous (FAA)
- Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA)
- Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
- Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA)
- Debtors Anonymous (DA)
- Pills Anonymous (PA)
- Overeaters Anonymous (OA)
Other 12-step support programs for friends and families of people in recovery: