In the simplest terms, you could point to a drug or drinking rehabilitation as two simple steps. The first would be to recognize you have a problem. The second is to do something about it.
But many people recognize that the road to recovery is fraught with perils. The risk of a relapse (or what they call a slip in many circles) is always hanging over an addict’s head, especially so in the early days or weeks of recovery.
Every path to recovery is individual. There are as many private stories of addiction as there are addicts and as many recovery stories as there are addicts in recovery. But there is also a thread of similarity within this profoundly precious and vulnerable community and a few steps almost everyone agrees is a part of every recovery.
Here’s a quick checklist of items that may be of use to you on the path towards sobriety.
Hitting Rock Bottom
Hitting bottom is what is said to be the low point in an addicts life, when he or she can no longer stand the pain of addiction and is forced to recognize it and do something about it.
Admitting the Problem
There are millions of ways to dodge the admittance that you have an addiction. One can even say, “I am an addict,” but not take responsibility for that – as such, the words can be hollow or empty. Still, on some level, admitting the problem is universally step one.
Let’s dodge the idea that “you cannot do this alone.” All addicts, including yourself, have different levels of help that they need. But there are grave dangers in not seeking any help. Addictions are wily and persistent and without help, you could stop drinking, for example, but suddenly find yourself seeking relief through pain medicine or drugs or gambling, all the while telling yourself that your recovery is progressing nicely.
Twelve step programs are far more sophisticated and yet beautifully simple than they first appear. The obvious, stunning achievement of 12 Step programs is that they work for millions of people and yet, a 12 Step meeting is, essentially, a leaderless, self-driven group dynamic. There are no therapists at 12 Step meetings, only addicts. Addicts (or alcoholics) run the show. And yet millions find recovery through the system, which is not only leaderless, but free. Hard to beat that.
In house recovery programs at a private facility or a hospital setting are usually 28-days or longer and involve remaining on the premises the entire 28 days, which is considered the time when addicts are going through withdrawal and the most vulnerable for a relapse.
Again – it is not impossible to stop using drugs or alcohol by oneself, but it is nearly impossible to gain perspective on the problem all by yourself. Many of the issues that drive them into addictions are subconscious in nature and it takes some time and gentle and practiced guidance to make progress on this.
Not to be forgotten, no recovery should be considered complete without a thorough physical examination and treatment for any physical problems. In the first place, pain from a physical issue could drive an addict into a relapse as they seek relief from that pain. In addition, addictions to drugs and alcohol can include very serious physical complications and these should be addressed as soon as possible.
New Friends and New Places
“New friends and places,” is a common phrase among people in recovery who seek out a new lifestyle that avoids some of the blatant temptations they have to confront when they spend time with people actively using drugs or drinking.
Recovery from addiction is, in many ways, a change of your lifestyle. Playing poker with your drinking buddies and going to bars will have to change. You may even need to spend time away from your partner – even your wife or husband – if they are actively using drugs or drinking.
Medication can be a useful tool to help in recovery. This might be the time to begin taking anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication. You might find depression or anxiety issues (just to use to examples) may be the reason you started drinking or taking drugs in the first place.
Many recovering addicts shun medication, thinking they need to prove they can be free and clear of all drugs from the start. But medication might just be a temporary measure to get you through the tough, early months of recovery. As they say in 12 Step meetings, “Fake it until you make it.” In that regard, taking medication until you “make it” or become more confident in your sobriety may just get you over the hump and prevent an early relapse that you could otherwise avoid.