Guest Post By: Ashwood Recovery
When you’re struggling with drug addiction, recovery can seem like an impossible goal.
But don’t give up: the first step in recovery is recognizing that you have a problem and the second step is deciding to change.
Drug addiction, despite being widely misunderstood as a criminal issue or a problem related to a weakness of character, is actually a form of mental illness. Much like depression, addiction needs to be treated medically.
Therefore, recovering from drug addiction is never easy nor straightforward. Recovery is best done with the assistance of medical professionals who can support you in the process. Addiction cannot be cured, but it is definitely manageable, and it is always possible to rehabilitate if you are willing to do so.
I am a living proof of that.
Below I have outlined five tips to help you recover successfully from drug addiction, they worked for me, and I hope they work for you as well.
1) Take Stock Of Your Life
Giving up your drug of choice is likely going to be accompanied by a host of conflictual emotions. Especially when the cravings hit, you may need some strong reminders of why you decided to quit in the first place. That is why it is necessary to take stock to remind yourself of the havoc drugs have been wreaking on your life.
How are your relationships? Your job? Your finances? Have any bad things happened in relation to drugs or alcohol that you would rather forget? The process of reviewing your life is not easy, as it is not pleasant to replay painful memories. It is also not easy to look at your mistakes and the bad things that have happened as a result of the choices you made.
However, it is necessary to remind yourself, especially at the beginning of the recovery process, why you want to commit to giving up drugs or alcohol for good and what the consequences might be if you allow yourself to continue any further down the dark path of addiction.
2) Get Help
Getting help seems like an obvious one, but it may not be the easiest. After admitting to yourself that you have a problem and deciding to change your life, you will need to ask for help. Getting professional help and admitting yourself to a good recovery center can be life-changing, and joining a support group such as Narcotics Anonymous can be vital to staying drug-free later on.
If you are one of the lucky ones with family and friends that love you, ask for their support. Communicate honestly and openly with them about your drug/alcohol problem and your desire to change. During the recovery process, share your challenges with them. As recovery from addiction can be isolating, the support of your family and friends can be critical.
If your relationship with your family is not positive or supportive (as family issues are often connected to addiction), it may be helpful to seek counseling, either with your family or individually.
3) Change Your Environment
Your home environment needs to be safe, secure, and drug/ alcohol-free. Remove anything from your home that is related to your addiction. Creating a safe home environment may also mean moving if you have roommates who are also addicts or live in a neighborhood where drugs or alcohol are easily accessible.
You may also want to consider moving into a sober living home, which is a safe, supportive communal living environment for people in the recovery process. Also, you will need to stay away from old friends who are users, as they may jeopardize your recovery. Furthermore, avoid any places that might act as triggers: bars, clubs, or any places where you used the substance before should be avoided to prevent relapse.
4) Find A Way To Force Yourself To Stick To A New Routine
When a recovering addict gives up their drug of choice, they are not just letting go of a substance; they are letting go of their former means of navigating life. Most addicts self-medicate simply to cope with living in modern society. Therefore, new coping mechanisms need to be established, and old habits need to be replaced with new, healthy ones. A consistent daily routine is a coping mechanism that can help you to know what to do with yourself at what time.
In early recovery, it is a good idea to schedule (and stick to) a daily routine detailing what time you wake up, eat, exercise, work, visit family and friends, go to appointments and meetings, and sleep. You should also schedule hobbies such as painting, writing, playing music, meditating, or anything else you enjoy that can help to keep you on track. When you always know what you should be doing and what is coming next, it leaves less space for your thoughts to wander back to taking drugs or alcohol again.
If you have a partner or spouse, ask them to help you plan and stick to your daily routine, and perhaps share some activities with them, such as exercising or going for walks.
5) Be Kind To Yourself
Almost all recovering addicts are burdened with feelings of guilt and shame. They may suffer from very low self-esteem, and experience s
elf-deprecating thoughts such as “I’m a failure,” or “I’ve thrown my whole life away.”
Not only are these thoughts not true, but they also are not helpful in the recovery process. Developing a sense of self-compassion is the key to a successful recovery process.
Being kind to yourself means forgiving yourself for past mistakes and recognizing that setbacks do occur on the road to recovery. Ensure that you celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem to you. But most importantly, have patience with yourself, treat yourself with kindness, and know that you are worthy of living a healthy, happy, and drug-free life.
The road to recovery is a long and difficult path with many twists and turns. During the recovery process, you will undoubtedly feel many ups and downs. But take it one day at a time: recovering addicts must make the choice every day not to take drugs.
This choice can be accompanied by reminding yourself of why you quit drugs in the first place and wish to stay sober, getting the help you need, creating a healthy and drug-free environment and social life, establishing a new routine, and remembering to be kind and compassionate with yourself.
Are you or someone you loves recovering from drug addiction? What has helped you to avoid relapse and stay on the path of recovery? Leave us a comment below.