According to Psychology Today, an addiction means “a condition in which a person engages in use of a substance or in a behavior for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeatedly pursue the behavior despite detrimental consequences.” Developing an addiction–whether it is to food, alcohol, drugs, sex, or gambling–can be harmful not only to you, but to your loved ones, as well. Abusing substances, such as alcohol and drugs, cause chemical changes in your brain, often making it difficult to overcome the addiction on your own. However, recovery from an addiction of any kind is not as far out of reach or impossible as you think. After you decide that you want and need help, you can find the right treatments and support to aid in making the change possible.
Decide to Make a Change
Before you can recover, you must decide for yourself that you want to do so. The toughest step toward recovery is admitting that you have a problem and need help. Even if you know that your addiction causes issues in your life, it is normal to feel conflicted about giving up the substance or activity to which you became addicted. Think about why you want to change and remind yourself of those reasons. Make a list of the pros and cons of quitting, as well as a list of the pros and cons of continuing your addiction. Consider the effects of your addiction on yourself, your loved ones, your career, your health, etc. Keep track of how often you use or partake in your addiction, and work to set specific and measurable goals for how to cut down. Once you realize the impact your addiction has on your life and make the decision to change, you commit more to achieving recovery.
Explore Treatment and Recovery Options
The right treatment for you is personal and specific to your needs. It also helps restore your overall physical and mental health. The types of rehabilitation program you choose depends on many factors, such as the level of treatment you need, the cost, etc. With a residential program, you live in the treatment facility and attend individual counseling and group meetings. In outpatient rehab programs, you live at home while receiving daily treatment.
You can also attend support group meetings or individual therapy meetings. Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous may meet every day, once a week, or at other intervals. Community centers, churches, or other non-profit organizations often host the meetings. They encourage you to share your experiences with addiction and recovery. In individual therapy, you meet one-on-one with an abuse counselor who helps you alter your behavior patterns and teaches you to use healthier coping mechanisms.
Another type of treatment involves medical intervention, directed toward patients with drug and alcohol abuse problems. You go through a medication assisted treatment that helps reduce drug or alcohol cravings, or makes you sick if you continue using. Your medication aided treatment is customized to fit your specific needs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration describes medication assisted treatment as “the use of FDA-approved medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a ‘whole-patient’ approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.” There isn’t a “one size fits all” treatment, and you have many other options to explore besides these. Just find the right one for you and your circumstances.
Find a Healthy Support System
An important part of overcoming addiction is knowing that you are not alone in your struggle, and that you have people who love and care about you, encouraging you each step of the way. Find people, such as close friends, family, co-workers, and church members, to whom to turn for guidance, encouragement, and a listening ear. If you do not have many close friends or family members to help you, consider trying online therapy. Websites like Prevail Intervention help you find the support you need from interventionists across the country. They also offer resources for learning about several types of addictions and treatments. Once you build up a dedicated support system, it is easier for you to stay determined and focused on recovering from your addiction.
Addictive illness is one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders. However, that does not mean it is untreatable. With the admission that you have an addiction, the exploration of all your options for treatment, and the creation of a staunch support system, you’re on your way to recovery!