When a person’s car breaks down they find a mechanic they can trust to find out what’s wrong and fix it. People who want to save money and invest wisely will contact a financial adviser and listen carefully to what he or she has to say. When sick, a person goes to the doctor for a diagnosis and, hopefully, instructions on how to recover. It’s normal, natural, and smart, to seek professional help and support for the numerous challenges of life.
But an addict will often think that going it alone is the only way to recover. Whether it’s shame or pride or just plain ignorance, too many addicts are convinced that there’s nobody else in the whole wide world who has ever had their problem, gone through what they are going through, and consequently they’re convinced they have to do it all by themselves. And that’s why so many addicts go back to the bottle, the needle, the porn, the binge eating. Deciding to kick the habit is truly an individual and personal decision, but once that decision has been made it’s time to consider putting together a support group to help keep the positive momentum going.
There are numerous addiction treatment options and resources available today. Some, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, offer a very specific series of steps and spiritual mandates for the recovering addict to follow — at no cost. Other treatment options are less structured and/or are site-based, such as the Stepping Sober Recovery Options.
But whatever path the recovering addict chooses to pursue, he or she must quickly acquire a support structure of people, places, and thoughts, to insure that a complete relapse does not occur.
The first step for most recovering addicts is to find a person that they trust completely that they can open up to and rely on for support when the addictive mindset wants to reassert itself (and in 99 percent of all recovery scenarios, there will be at least one episode when the recovering addict tries to convince themselves that reverting to the addiction will be easy and pleasant.) This person, whether a sponsor or a doctor or perhaps a priest, rabbi, or minister, can keep the addict honest and remind them of their commitment to sobriety.
It’s also a good idea to belong to a support group, where people with similar addictions can meet together to encourage one another. Isolation is always a key to failure to remain sober.
Recovering addicts must be proactive when it comes to their behavior triggers. They must dig deep to discover places and people that inevitably trigger addictive behavior, such as a certain bar or a group of party friends — and then patiently work to eliminate those places and people from their lives. Obviously this is hard to do if it’s a relative, a spouse, or a workplace environment! That’s why talking things over in a support group is so very important — these are the people who are doing the same thing, and they’ll have suggestions on how to get it done right the first time.
Finally, the addict’s own mind must change so that he or she becomes a supportive presence and not a nagging, guilt-ridden, swamp of self defeat. Whether through jogging, zen yoga, or crocheting doilies, the addict must explore a new set of self images and actions to reverse the negativity that addiction invites and embraces. This will make recovery a one way street — in the right direction!