Addiction is a complex problem that affects every aspect of your life. Overcoming addiction requires reaching out for support and making changes to the way you live, deal with problems, and relate to others. Recovery is within your reach but don’t try to go it alone; it’s very easy to get discouraged and rationalize, just one more. Whether you choose to go to rehab, rely on self-help programs, get therapy, or take a self-directed treatment approach, support is essential.
Overcoming Drug Addiction
Developing an addiction to drugs isn’t a character flaw or a sign of weakness, and it takes more than willpower to overcome the problem. Abusing illegal or certain prescription drugs can create changes in the brain, causing powerful cravings and a compulsion to use that makes sobriety seem like an impossible goal. But recovery is never out of reach, no matter how hopeless your situation seems or how many times you’ve tried and failed before. With the right treatment and support, change is possible.
For many people struggling with addiction, the toughest step toward recovery is the very first one: recognizing that you have a problem and deciding to make a change. It’s normal to feel uncertain about whether you’re ready to start recovery, or if you have what it takes to quit. If you’re addicted to a prescription drug, you may be concerned about how you’re going to find an alternate way to treat a medical condition. It’s okay to feel torn. Committing to sobriety involves changing many things, including:
- the way you deal with stress
- who you allow in your life
- what you do in your free time
- how you think about yourself
- the prescription and over-the-counter medications you take
It’s also normal to feel conflicted about giving up your drug of choice, even when you know it’s causing problems in your life. Recovery requires time, motivation, and support, but by making a commitment to change, you can overcome your addiction and regain control of your life.
Exploring Treatment Options
Once you’ve committed yourself or someone to recovery, it’s time to explore treatment options. While addiction treatment can vary according to the specific drug, a successful program often includes different elements, such as:
Usually the first step is to purge your body of drugsand manage withdrawal symptoms.
Individual, group, and/or family therapy can help you identify the root causes of your drug use, repair your relationships, and learn healthier coping skills.
may be used to manage withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, or treat any co-occurring mental health condition such as depression or anxiety.
can help to prevent relapse and maintain sobriety. This may include attending regular in-person support groups or online meetings to help keep your recovery on track.
The Keys to Finding the Best Addiction Treatment
Whatever treatment approach you choose, having positive influences and a solid support system is essential. The more people you can turn to for encouragement, guidance, and a listening ear, the better your chances for recovery.
Everyone’s needs are different. Whether you have a problem with illegal or prescription drugs, addiction treatment should be customized to your unique situation. It’s important that you find a program that feels right.
including your relationships, career, health, and psychological well-being. Treatment success depends on developing a new way of living and addressing the reasons why you turned to drugs in the first place. For example, your drug dependency may have developed from a desire to manage pain or to cope with stress, in which case you'll need to find a healthier way to relieve pain or to handle stressful situations.
In general, the longer and more intense the drug use, the longer and more intense the treatment you'll need. And in all cases, long-term follow-up care is crucial to recovery.
The care you need depends on a variety of factors, including your age, drug-use history, medical or psychiatric conditions. In addition to doctors and psychologists, many clergy members, social workers, and counselors offer addiction treatment services.
As you seek help for drug addiction, it’s also important to get treatment for any other medical or psychological issues you’re experiencing. Your best chance of recovery is by getting combined mental health and addiction treatment from the same treatment provider or team
Preventative Measures After Sobriety
Your recovery doesn’t end after becoming sober. Your brain still needs time to recover and rebuild connections that changed while you were addicted. During this rebuild, drug cravings can be intense. You can support your continued recovery by avoiding people, places, and situations that trigger your urge to use:
Don’t hang out with friends who are still doing drugs. Surround yourself with people who support your sobriety, not those who tempt you to slip back into old, destructive habits.
Even if you don’t have a problem with alcohol, drinking lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment, which can easily lead to a relapse. Drugs are often readily available and the temptation to use can be overpowering. Also avoid any other environments and situations that you associate with drug use.
If you need a medical or dental procedure done, be upfront and find a provider who will work with you in either prescribing alternatives or the absolute minimum medication necessary. You should never feel ashamed or humiliated about previous drug use or be denied medication for pain; if that happens, find another provider.
If you were addicted to a prescription drug, such as an opioid painkiller, you may need to talk to your doctor about finding alternate ways to manage pain. Regardless of the drug you experienced problems with, it’s important to stay away from prescription drugs with the potential for abuse or use only when necessary and with extreme caution. Drugs with a high abuse potential include painkillers, sleeping pills, and anti-anxiety medication.
Build a meaningful drug-free life
You can support your drug treatment and protect yourself from relapse by having activities and interests that provide meaning to your life. It’s important to be involved in things that you enjoy, that make you feel needed, and add meaning to your life. When your life is filled with rewarding activities and a sense of purpose, your addiction will lose its appeal.
Pick up an old hobby or try a new one. Do things that challenge your creativity and spark your imagination—something you’ve always wanted to try. Learn a musical instrument, a foreign language, or try a new sport.
Adopt a pet. Yes, pets are a responsibility, but caring for an animal makes you feel loved and needed. Pets can also get you out of the house for exercise.
Spend time in nature. Take a scenic hike, go fishing or camping, or enjoy regular walks in a park.
Enjoy the arts. Visit a museum, go to a concert or a play, take an art class or write a memoir.
Get involved in your community. Replace your addiction with drug-free groups and activities. Volunteer, become active in your church or faith community, or join a local club or neighborhood group.
Set meaningful goals. Having goals to work toward and something to look forward to can be powerful antidotes to drug addiction. It doesn’t matter what the goals are, just that they are important to you.
Look after your health. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits help you keep your energy levels up and your stress levels down. The more you can stay healthy and feel good, the easier it will be to stay sober.
Don't Let Relapse Keep You Down
Relapse is a common part of the recovery process from drug addiction. While relapse is frustrating and discouraging, it can be an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, identify additional triggers, and correct your treatment course.
What causes relapse?
Different “triggers” can put you at risk of relapsing into old patterns of substance use. While specific causes of relapse differ from person to person, some common triggers include:
- Negative emotional state (such as stress, sadness, anger, or trauma)
- Positive emotional state (feeling happy and wanting to feel even better, such as having a good time with friends)
- Physical discomfort (such as pain or withdrawal symptoms)
- Trying to test your personal control (“I can use just once” or “have just one pill”)
- Strong temptation or urge (craving to use)
- Conflict (such as an argument with your spouse or partner)
- Social pressure (being in a situation where it seems everyone else is using)
The important thing to remember is that relapse doesn’t mean drug treatment failure. Don’t give up. Call your sponsor, talk to your therapist, go to a meeting, or schedule an appointment with your doctor. When you’re sober again and out of danger, look at what triggered the relapse, what went wrong, and what you could have done differently. You can choose to get back on the path to recovery and use the experience to strengthen your commitment.
Coping with Drug Cravings
Sometimes craving cannot be avoided, and it is necessary to find a way to cope:
Read, see friends, go to a movie, immerse yourself in a hobby, hike, or exercise. Once you’re interested in something else, you’ll find the urges go away.
Talk to friends or family members about craving when it occurs. Talking can be very helpful in pinpointing the source of the craving. Also, talking about craving often helps to discharge and relieve the feeling and will help restore honesty in your relationship. Craving is nothing to feel bad about.
When experiencing a craving, many people have a tendency to remember only the positive effects of the drug and forget the negative consequences. Therefore, you may find it helpful to remind yourself that you really won’t feel better if you use and that you stand to lose a lot. Sometimes it is helpful to have these consequences listed on a small card that you keep with you.
Many people try to cope with their urges by toughing it out. But some cravings are too strong to ignore. When this happens, sometimes if the person is strong enough, it can be useful to stay with the urge until it passes. This technique is called urge surfing. Imagine yourself as a surfer who will ride the wave of your drug craving, staying on top of it until it crests, breaks, and turns into less powerful, foamy surf. When you ride out the craving, without trying to battle, judge, or ignore it, you'll see that it passes more quickly than you'd think.
Types of Treatment Programmes
Addiction treatment typically have benn classified into programs using several general types or modalities. Treatment approaches and individual programs continue to evolve and diversify, and many programs today do not fit neatly into traditional drug adiction treatment classifications.
Residential treatment (short or long-term) – Residential treatment involves living at a facility and getting away from work, school, family, friends, and addiction triggers while undergoing intensive treatment. Residential treatment can last from a few days to several months.
Day treatment/Partial hospitalization – Partial hospitalization is for people who require ongoing medical monitoring but wish to still live at home and have a stable living environment. These treatment programs usually meet at a treatment center for 7 to 8 hours during the day, then you return home at night.
Outpatient treatment – Not a live-in treatment program, these outpatient programs can be scheduled around work or school. You’re treated during the day or evening but don’t stay overnight. The major focus is relapse prevention.
Sober living communities – Living in a sober house normally follows an intensive treatment program such as residential treatment. You live with other recovering addicts in a safe, supportive, and drug-free environment. Sober living facilities are useful if you have nowhere to go or you’re worried that returning home too soon will lead to relapse.
Individual Drug Counselling – Individualized drug counseling not only focuses on reducing or stopping illicit drug or alcohol use; it also addresses related areas of impaired functioning—such as employment status, illegal activity, and family/social relations—as well as the content and structure of the patient’s recovery program.
Group Drug Counselling – Many therapeutic settings use group therapy to capitalize on the social reinforcement offered by peer discussion and to help promote drug-free lifestyles. Research has shown that when group therapy either is offered in conjunction with individualized drug counseling or is formatted to reflect the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy or contingency management, positive outcomes are achieved.