Drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain. The cause for drug addiction are numerous. You may think the causes of drug addiction are obvious, but that is not often the case. People can take drugs for many reasons. Some drug use is even justified. Prescription drugs for example, improve and even save the lives of millions of people. But still, people get addicted to them.
Many people with addictive behaviors find out quite late that overcoming the addiction is more challenging than expected. Truth is, overcoming addiction may seem like an impossible achievement, but countless people have managed to escape the circle of drug abuse. You can be next.
OVERCOMING DRUG ADDICTION
Developing an addiction to drugs isn’t a sign of weakness, and it takes more than willpower to overcome the problem. However, recovery is possible no matter how hopeless your case may seem or how many times you’ve tried and failed before.
If you or a loved one currently suffer from drug addiction, don’t lose hope. The good news is that it is not an incurable disease and recovery is possible, though the risk of relapsing can make it seem a little hard to overcome.
STEPS IN OVERCOMING DRUG ADDICTION
Accepting the problem
It’s one thing to recognize you have a problem, it’s another thing to accept the problem and be willing to solve it. You can’t hope to fix your drug addiction if you don’t admit it to yourself. Embrace your problem and start working towards solving it.
However, since you are reading this article, you have already taken the first step, so don’t give up! You’re on the right track for a new beginning.
Making a decision to change and be better
It’s normal to feel uncertain about whether you’re ready to start recovery, or if you have what it takes to quit drugs. If you’re addicted to a prescription drug, you may be concerned about how you’re going to find an alternate way to treat a medical condition.
It’s also normal to feel conflicted about giving up your drug of choice, even when you know it’s causing problems in your life. Recovery requires time, motivation, and support, but by making a commitment to change, you can overcome your addiction and regain control of your life.
Here are a few tips to guide your decision making process
- Keep track of your drug use, including when and how much you use them. This will give you a clearer picture of the role the addiction is playing in your life.
- Write down the pros and cons of quitting, as well as the costs and benefits of continuing your drug use. This will help you weigh the costs of quitting or continuing. You need to be very honest with yourself here.
- Consider the things that are important to you, such as your partner, your kids, your career, or your health. How does your drug use affect those things?
- Ask someone you trust about their feelings on your drug use.
- Ask yourself if there’s anything preventing you from changing. What could help you make the change?
Start the journey to recovery
Keep reminding yourself of the reasons you want to change. You need to also think about your past attempts at recovery, if any. What worked? What didn’t? Set specific, measurable goals, such as a start date or limits on your drug use. Remove reminders of your addiction from your home, workplace, and other places you frequent. Tell friends and family that you’re committing to recovery, and ask for their support.
Consider different treatment options
Having decided to make a change and enlisted the help of friends and family, it is time to consider your treatment options.
Different drugs require different treatments, but all drug addictions have some characteristics in common. All drug addiction treatment options deal with certain core elements of addiction. The most common include:
- Drug detoxification
- Behavioral therapy
- Follow-up treatment
- Long-term care
Detoxification is the first step, and usually the most painful one. Getting rid of the drugs in your body can cause a range of side effects. That is why for many drug addictions, doctors prescribe certain medications to help ease the transition to sobriety.
Medication may be used to manage withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, or treat any co-occurring mental health condition such as depression or anxiety.
Behavioral therapy encompasses counseling, group sessions, and other forms of psychological support that can help you identify the cause of your addiction and avoid relapsing. Behavioral therapy also includes follow-up sessions to check on your progress.
Treatment often includes long-term checks and ongoing care to avoid relapsing and make sure you are living a fulfilling and satisfying life.
Start developing a drug-free lifestyle
Find new hobbies. Staying busy is the best way to keep your mind off your desire to use. Not only that, but establishing an interesting and rewarding hobby can also help you find joy and purpose in your life, and replace your old unhealthy habits with new drug-free activities.
Exercise. Working out is good for the body and the mind. As your physical health improves, you’ll also experience the good “natural highness”, which can elevate your mood. Also, an exercise routine creates a structure to your days, helping to reduce your risk of a relapse.
Volunteer. Finding a worthy cause to support while in recovery allows you to help others while helping yourself. Giving back to the community can help you discover a sense of purpose, build healthy connections and friendships, and feel good about the contributions you’re making to society.
Eat healthy. The food you eat has a serious impact on your wellbeing. By making sure you consume a healthy, well-balanced diet, you’ll keep yourself in shape – both physically and mentally. And if you’re feeling good, then you’re less likely to turn to drugs for a mood booster.
Meditate. Meditating have been proven to relieve stress and anxiety, as well as to decrease blood pressure and improve immune function. Developing a meditation practice can help you to find calm and peace, and quiet your mind in an otherwise turbulent time.
Stay far away from your drug triggers
During your recovery, your brain needs time to recover and rebuild connections. However, this process can lead to intense drug cravings and you need to stay as far away as possible from your drug triggers.
A trigger is a stimulus that sparks a craving. Triggers are the people, places, and things that make you want to use more drugs. Anything can be a drug trigger. Here are some common triggers.
People. People closest to you may set off cravings that eventually lead to a relapse. It is dangerous for a person in recovery to be around substance-using friends and family. Don’t hang out with friends who are still doing drugs. Surround yourself with people who support your recovery journey, not those who tempt you to slip back into old, bad habits.
Places. Walking or driving through places where you used to consume drugs can spark a memory connected to drug use. Avoid going to bars and clubs. Drugs are often readily available and the temptation to use can be overpowering. Also avoid any other environments and situations that you associate with drug use.
Things. Objects in your everyday life may induce a craving. A NIDA study maintains that exposure to drug-related objects may influence a former addict’s behavior. The brain registers these stimuli and processes them in the same areas involved in drug-seeking behavior. It is important to remove these object from your surrounding.
Emotions. Percieved negative emotions can lead people to use drugs in the first place and even go back to relying on drugs for relief. It is, however, impossible to avoid feeling sad, angry, guilty, or lonely all the time. Experiencing these emotions is normal and an important aspect of recovery – but they can be uncomfortable. Learning how to cope with your emotions as they arise without the use of drugs is very essential in early recovery.
Stress. Stress could possibly be the number-one addiction relapse trigger because of its broad range of effects on the mind and body. Losing a job or loved one, increased responsibility at home or work, and health problems can all create increased stress. You need to be proactive about stress prevention and being mindful as well as honest about what causes stress for you.
Learn to cope with drug cravings
Sometimes craving cannot be avoided, and it is necessary to find a way to cope.
In everyday terms, a craving is a strong desire for something. Here are a few tips to help you cope with your drug cravings:
- Get involved in a distracting activity such as reading, cleaning the house, hanging out with friends, or immersing yourself in a hobby. Once you’re interested in something else, you’ll find the urges go away.
- Talk to friends or family members about craving when it occurs. Talking can be very helpful in identifying the source of the craving and often helps to discharge and relieve the feeling. Also, it will help restore honesty in your relationship.
- Constantly remind yourself that you really won’t feel better if you use those drugs and that you stand to lose more than you think you would gain. Sometimes it is helpful to have these consequences listed on a small card that you keep with you.
No one strategy can prevent or manage every trigger you might experience in your recovery. Developing a set of these strategies is advisable as you will have a myriad of tools available to you to overcome triggers and prevent relapse.
Try avoiding Relapse
People with addictions commonly relapse. Relapse can be caused by different “triggers” which we had discussed earlier. Moreover, specific causes of relapse differ from person to person. Relapse is frustrating and discouraging but it can be an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and identify additional triggers. Don’t give up trying to quit if this happens to you.
In the event of a relapse, call your doctor or speak to your therapist. Don’t give up.
Join a 12 step recovery program
The 12-step recovery programs are self-help meetings where participants admit past mistakes, surrender to a higher power and learn to stay sober. Alcoholics Anonymous was the first 12-step group, established in the 1930s. Since then, the 12-step movement has expanded across the world.
This recovery programs encourage members to adopt a set of guiding principles called the 12 Steps. Following the steps in order has helped people achieve and maintain abstinence from behavioral problems such as drug and substance use disorders, gambling addiction and eating disorders.
Overcoming drug addiction is challenging but very possible. However, you may experience relapse but don’t let it keep you down. The important thing to remember is that relapse doesn’t mean drug treatment failure so don’t give up.