Let’s get one thing straight. There is no cure for addiction. If you have suffered its physical and mental perils, and its catastrophic effect on your life, know this: that addiction will always be with you, sitting in the background to your life, waiting on your possible relapse. Recovery is not about beating it or getting an “all clear” from medical professionals. It’s about learning to live your life abstaining from the alcohol or drugs that brought such harm and misery, in the first place, to you and those around you.
Addiction has many definitions. This is one of the clearest: “A chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works.”
In case you were wondering, the word chronic, in medical terminology, means a disease or condition that lasts longer than 3 months. So, in the definition of addiction given above, chronic is the least of your problems – the “relapsing” part is what needs to concern you.
Everybody has their own story when it comes to addiction. Briefly, that is why treatment of addiction can vary greatly from person to person, sufferer to sufferer. However, the steps towards a recovery are clear for all, regardless of personal story, grounded in medical research that has continued as long as the effects of alcohol and drugs were first discovered and then subsequently abused.
There are 5 clear steps along the path of your addiction recovery. Every step needs to be taken, and some need to be continually repeated. Each one of them is essential in you never becoming subjected to your addiction again, each of them is necessary in order to live a life of abstinence.
This article details those 5 essential steps that you need to take towards addiction recovery. How essential? The statistics related to addiction death rate make grim reading, wherever you are in the world and whatever your drug of choice. Estimated deaths in the U.S., for example, just from alcohol abuse are approximately 88,000 every year. The cost of this? $249 billion. We haven’t even mentioned the many forms of drug misuse, and the fatalities that result from that. Yes, it’s clear – addiction kills, and it kills plenty.
As mentioned earlier, recovery is about abstinence, and that cannot be achieved through simple determination. That is why it is so important for the addict to know the 5 steps they need to take, to get the help they desperately need, and to access the support that is vital. The first step? Simple-sounding, but hard for many addicts to accept – admitting you are powerless over your addiction.
A solution to a problem can only be found if the problem is acknowledged and accepted. For an addict, this can vary. It can come from within, from oneself, or it can be through the process of intervention. However, the result for the addict is clear, as hard as it is. Addiction is the problem, one that could ultimately prove fatal if left untreated, and, alone, you are now utterly powerless in its hands.
Clearly, there are issues in your life that need to be addressed, the fundamental reasons for your addiction. Things need to change and to change for the better.
Admitting your addiction to yourself is one thing. You now need to admit to others. Your friends, your family, and your doctor. By doing so, you are making that change happen. You are asking for help, and you are now not alone in your recovery.
Finding the right treatment is equally essential. It needs to actively involve 3 distinct elements:
- Assistance to process the addiction itself and its effects,
- Professional advice about what happens now, and
A whole host of services are available; sadly, the demand is a high one. There is residential rehab, out-patient treatments, and other medical services and therapy. Remember, you also have meetings (such as those provided by Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous) to speak and listen to other sufferers. Whatever is decided, the need to closely examine the truth behind your addiction is a strong one, and one you need to face.
Your addiction recovery doesn’t get easier now that you’ve reached this point. Part of your treatment involves your health, which has surely suffered. The stress upon your body and mind can be partly reversed by continuing to lead a healthier lifestyle from now on, one of abstinence.
Building up both your emotional and physical strength is vital. Being unsure and weak will only lead to possible relapse. As part of this step, you must, with professional guidance, formulate a relapse prevention plan for yourself.
Additionally, and this may be the hardest part, you need to recognize and address the damage your addiction has caused to others, those who share your life. An essential part of the Twelve Step Program, making amends with loved ones and rebuilding your relationships with them is vital in your achieving and maintaining sobriety.
There is no real ultimate step in your recovery, as there is no cure for addiction. However, being able to acknowledge how far you’ve come, to celebrate even, is the ongoing last of these 5 steps. At this point, when you can recognize an anniversary of sobriety, you will become more resolute, more determined to continue.
Now you know what to expect from embarking on your personal journey of addiction recovery. These 5 steps towards that goal, that prize, are so very necessary for you to be able to live a second life, one free from the hellish nightmare of addiction, one of sobriety and abstinence. Admitting you’re powerless, seeking changes, finding treatment, making a commitment to the future, and acknowledging your progress – all need to be gone through, to be lived.
Perhaps this will soon be your journey. If you have any comments on what is written here, please tell us with a comment below. Is there something you feel is missing from these steps? Or something you feel other readers may benefit from? Let us know.