No one (well, not anyone in their right mind, supposedly) decides one day to take a new direction in life by becoming a hard-core drug addict or a chronic alcoholic.
Seriously, who would literally leave their life to complete chance by spending numerous years consuming as many addictive, hard drugs as is humanly possible – all without fatally overdosing?
Or how about drinking as many bottles of hard liquor as they possibly can, and then to see how their once rosy future looks now when they finally surface and get their “moment of clarity”?
That would be insane, wouldn’t it? Sheer madness?
When it all comes down to it, we all tend to do our best to “choose life” – as the Trainspotting mantra reminds us to (or, at least, an acceptable version of it).
We don’t choose addiction.
Nobody intentionally chooses addiction.
I certainly didn’t. I was quite sane back then, and I’m quite sane right now.
I did, however, recreationally use drugs (sometimes, the really strong kind) when I was younger. And I did drink as many bottles of liquor as I possibly could, and for numerous years, too. I was still using, still drinking when I wasn’t even young anymore.
But, no, I’m certainly not mad – I did not choose addiction.
However, unfortunately, chronic, life-threatening addiction certainly chose me.
Today, many years later, thanks to an excellent Phoenix rehab, numerous good-hearted people (the kind of people you meet when you finally start to seek recovery), seemingly endless “anonymous” meetings, and a little good luck, if I’m honest, addiction and I are no longer a “thing.”
We are, if you like, divorced. Me? I’m very happily divorced from addiction now.. Addiction itself? Hmm.. not so much, I guess.
In fact, I’m pretty sure addiction would have me back in a heartbeat, if it could.
It’s out of luck – I’m now happily married to my addiction recovery.
For many young adults, drugs and alcohol are part of their life, whether they like it or not. If it’s at college, in their first job, with the crowd they hang with, being with their friends… drugs and alcohol (and addiction) are often not very far away at all.
Many of these young adults get chosen, just like I did. Maybe it’s genetics and substance abuse runs throughout their family history, maybe drugs and alcohol were constantly in their house growing up, maybe they have that kind of character, maybe they’re never happier than when they are risking something important…
It’s not a personal choice. It’s not a conscious decision. And it’s certainly not a lack of willpower or a sign of weakness, either.
They don’t choose addiction – it chooses them.
So what do you do – what can you do – if you are one of the special “chosen ones”? Who do you turn to? How do you successfully fight addiction when you’re a young adult?
Using professional advice and input from addiction experts and specialists, with a healthy dose of my own experience where relevant, here are your “5 Key Steps for Young Adults in Successfully Fighting Addiction.”
#1. Addiction: Your Education
Many young people are addicted to substances for one reason or another, but sadly, not many of them have looked into what addiction really is, how it can be treated successfully, the various rehab options available, or anything else that might help them.
So the essential first step for anyone concerned about their use (or abuse) of substances – whether it’s alcohol, prescription pills, drugs sold on the street or online, or something else – is to become educated, to learn all they can about substance addiction and what may or will happen if their substance use continues unabated.
*Spoiler Alert*: It’s never a happy ending if the drug or alcohol use doesn’t stop.
#2. Addiction: Your Self-Acknowledgement
Addiction is a disease of denial – self-denial to the point of delusion, and complete denial to others. Many young people do not think their use of illegal substances is an actual problem, and everybody drinks when they’re young, don’t they? Many simply don’t realize they’re medically addicted to a substance until they’ve gone way too far.
Living in denial gets an addict to one particular place really fast – absolutely nowhere.
An addict or an alcoholic can only genuinely move towards rehab, treatment and a recovery once they accept they have a problem, once they acknowledge they are powerless to resolve this problem themselves, and once they realize they will need the support of others – loved ones, professional addiction specialists, support groups, and the rest.
It’s not a weakness to become addicted. Addiction will seriously compromise an individual’s impulse control and judgment. The brain itself creates the craving for drugs, and the brain even relates it to a rewarding experience, making it even harder for someone to stop.
Fighting addiction for young adults might be challenging, but once you are past the denial, it is not impossible. You only need the right plan, the right resources, and the right support to succeed at your first attempt. If you fail, you can try again until it works for you.
#3. Addiction: Your Professional, Expert Help
Clearly, a vital step in reaching a point of recovery requires professional addiction resources, eg. approved and evidence-based therapies and if needed, a professional, accredited drug and alcohol rehab.
For any young adult who needs addiction treatment, your first step is your family doctor to get their advice. Additionally, you can go online to find a suitable treatment program. The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a national addiction service locator you can freely access (just click on the link).
#4. Addiction: Your Detox & Rehab
For those drug addicts and alcoholics whose substance consumption was considered heavy, and over an extended period (years, like me), you will likely require a professional medically assisted detox.
This is because you will need to be monitored by qualified medical staff, as many substances, such as alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines, can prove fatal if you go “cold turkey.” The withdrawal symptoms for these substances can actually include delirium, seizures, coma, and death.
#5. Addiction: Your Commitment to Recovery
Recovering from substance addiction isn’t about doing all you can not to use drugs or not to drink alcohol. Instead, it is about finding the right treatment and the recovery approach that works best for you.
If anything, it’s about your full commitment to a better, happier and healthier future.
Possible treatment plans to help fight addiction (depending, of course, on its severity) in young adults include:
- Addiction Rehab: Inpatient (residential) treatment, or outpatient treatment programs
- Online Programs: Online peer-based programs that use various tools to help individuals end their addiction
- Medication: FDA-approved medication to treat either alcohol dependence or substance abuse
- Support Groups: In-person peer support groups for promoting and maintaining sobriety through mutual participation, eg. Alcoholics / Narcotics Anonymous.
Whichever form your addiction treatment takes, your commitment to it and your commitment to your continued recovery is paramount. Go easy and good luck.