If you have recently gotten out of the pit of drug addiction or are still working your way out of it, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Government statistics show that 21.5 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2014. One out of eight of these had both an alcohol and drug disorder at the same time. In addition, almost 8 million American adults battled both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder, or co-occurring disorders.
How to beat addiction is a whole set of questions and answers in and of itself. What we’re here to discuss today, though, is what comes after. Even after addiction ends, there’s still the matter of reconciling the things that you’ve done and the people you’ve hurt, while still working to craft a better life for yourself. Figuring this out requires a proper level of balance, hard work, and sometimes a bit of support.
Setting A Proper Stage For Yourself
The most important stage of living past addiction is putting together the right mindset for yourself. A big piece of this is thinking in reality. You can’t change the past, but you do have the opportunity to reshape the future. At the same time, pacing is important. It’s easy to feel that you can leap right into your life at full bore, but this may end up backfiring. It’s good that you have energy, but try and plan out how you use it.
One thing that you should try to look out for is a sense of structure. An addict’s life is a chaotic one, and finding structure will help you reclaim some sense of normalcy. A major piece of this is getting a job, which may be difficult if you have an addiction history. Don’t be afraid to look up job programs if you are having trouble. In addition to structure, the money you make from your job can help make up for any reckless spending in the past.
Outside of work, one will need to find some sort of structure in their social space. This can be difficult, especially if many of the friends you have played a role in enabling or facilitating your addiction. If you find yourself out on your own, consider doing something like taking a class or volunteering to be around other people in a positive and structured atmosphere.
Repairing What Is Broken (If Possible)
Perhaps one of the biggest costs of addiction, though, isn’t tangible. To feed their habits, people are sometimes ready to do things that hurt the ones they love, directly or indirectly. As a result, post-addiction, one of the main things that people think about is what they can do to make things right with the people closest to them.
Approaching people realistically is a good place to start. This shows that you are taking responsibility for what you have done while making your intentions to repair the relationship clear. Note that the negative things don’t always come to the surface at first. Your loved ones may be overcome to see you, only for the old wounds of your actions to pop up later. A major step you can make with former friends and family is to try and figure out what their expectations are of you. This not only applies to surface things like getting a job or education but also what your role will be. For example, some people start addiction as teens and don’t get out of it until they are older. This means that there may be a lot of changes.
When it comes to friends, as we mentioned before, not all friends are worth keeping. If your friends drink or use drugs, you can’t risk being with them, even if they say they are willing to help in your sobriety. Even if they mean well, you may find stimulation or even cravings if you are around the substance you were abusing. In addition, as we said before, sometimes social circles revolve around substance abuse, the last type of activities you need to be doing.
Sometimes, if you have the means but are surrounded by too many temptations in your own life, a more drastic change is needed. You may want to consider a sober living program. These programs allow you to be in an environment free of drugs or alcohol, but still providing you a sense a freedom. Perhaps most importantly, you have access to mental health professionals and other self-care to help guide you as you go through this new stage of your life.