Addiction help is about empowering addicts and alcoholics to overcome their addiction.
There are 2 parts to this:
1) Either you are a drug addict or alcoholic yourself, and are seeking ways to get help and progress in your recovery, or
2) You are the friend, family member, or loved one of a struggling addict or alcoholic and want to know how you can help them.
We’ll take a look at both of these cases separately.
Helping yourself in overcoming addiction
Here is a possible outline of the progression from full blown addiction to a healthy life in recovery (and how you can take action to further your recovery efforts along the way):
1) Thinking about quitting drugs and alcohol - you might still be using drugs and alcohol, but have started to have your first glimpses past your denial, and can see that you want a better life for yourself. Fear still holds you back from taking the plunge into sobriety.
How you can help yourself if you’re at this stage: It is not yet clear to me if you have to hit bottom first, or if you can consciously make a decision to surrender to the disease of addiction. In my personal experience, it really was more like my higher power reached down and flipped a switch in my head one day. I simply caved and said I was ready to get some help.
If it is possible to initiate your own surrender to the disease of addiction, then the whole key to it is simply to let go. Stop struggling and fighting and battling with the world to keep yourself self-medicated. Give up the struggle and take those first steps towards a scary new life in sobriety (it doesn’t stay scary for long). You only have to ask for help.
2) Turning point or major life event - some addicts make the decision to seek help only after something significant happens in their life, such as going to jail or having their spouse leave them. This is not a requirement to get clean and sober, but everyone has to hit their own bottom before they will surrender to their addiction.
How you can help yourself if you’re at this stage: This just happens to some people. For me it was different…I had not great event that pushed me over the edge. If you do land in jail from a drunk driving (or something similar), then take it as a blessing as disguise and use it as an opportunity to turn your life around. If you are suffering major consequences now, just imagine how much worse things will get if you continue to drink and drug. Addiction always gets worse, never better.
3) Decision – The moment of surrender. The addict says “I’ve had enough, I want to get help, I want a new life.” Any attempt to get clean and sober without this level of surrender and conviction is doomed to failure.
How you can help yourself if you’re at this stage: You’re nine tenths of the way there. The only thing to do now is to ask for help and keep an open mind. Don’t worry so much about your level of conviction….you can’t change it consciously anyway. Focus instead on staying open minded. Pretend your on a great new adventure called recovery and promise yourself that you will go along with the flow and just take it all in as a new experience. This is the next great trip for you. Stay open and ask for help.
4) Early recovery - A learning stage, which is quite delicate and demands support from like-minded individuals. In other words, recovering addicts need to stick together to make things work in early sobriety. This is what makes the infrastructure of 12 step programs such as AA and NA so powerful–the amount of support they offer is unrivaled.
How you can help yourself if you’re at this stage: Focus on your recovery network. This is about interacting with others in recovery. For most, this will involve 12 step meetings, because that’s where the support is at. Start learning about the creative theory of recovery and how it can help you transition into long term sobriety. Build relationships with others in recovery.
5) Long term sobriety – In early recovery, you’re learning how to make it through the day without using drugs and alcohol. In long term sobriety, you’re more concerned with personal growth and development from a holistic perspective, and in fighting off complacency. Our priorities shift because we are changing and growing in recovery. For example, resentments and personal defects such as self-pity might torment us in early recovery and threaten us with relapse, but years later we have worked through these issues and have to shift our growth efforts elsewhere.
How you can help yourself if you’re at this stage: Live the creative theory. Approach your recovery from a holistic perspective, and start growing and learning beyond the boundaries of traditional 12 step recovery. Physical health, nutrition, fitness, emotional stability, education, meditation–these are all potential concepts for you to explore in long term sobriety. Remember that complacency is the number one offender, and you need to push yourself to grow in different areas in order to overcome this. The only enemy now is stagnation.
Helping others in overcoming addiction
There are a number of potential situations with helping others. I’ll try to highlight some of the more typical situations and offer some solutions:
1) You notice that a friend or a loved one is slipping into the grip of addiction. You believe they have a problem and that it is getting worse, but you have not formally addressed the issue with them yet.
How you can help in this situation: You want to be especially careful in a situation like this because there are really 2 possibilities: one is that the person is only abusing drugs and alcohol as a passing stage, and is not really addicted at all. The other scenario is that they are a true addict and this is the start of a potential roller coaster for them. Both situations make it very tricky to approach the subject with them, because in the first case, you are insulting them by suggesting that they are truly sick, and in the second case, you are trying to pierce through a wall of denial that is 10 feet thick.
Think about it: someone who is very early in their addiction is going to have the greatest amount of denial at that point. This makes them very difficult to approach and communicate with in any meaningful way about quitting drugs and alcohol. Why should they quit, if they are still having fun with it and there have been no major consequences yet? This logic will form the basis of their denial.
If this is the case, the best you can do is to alter your own behavior so that you are not enabling them, and offer to help them with their addiction when the time comes. In other words, there’s not much you can do, because their denial is too strong. They haven’t suffered enough consequences from their using yet and so they are not yet ready to take a look at the possibility that they might actually be addicted.
2) You have a friend or a loved one that has been addicted to drugs or alcohol for a long time now, and you both know it. You want for them to get help but they are resistant to the idea.
How you can help in this situation: This is going to involve some level of intervention on your part. The question is: How much? Do you want to take them aside and talk to them in an informal setting, or is it more appropriate to organize a formal intervention? The answer to this question is going to depend on how desperate you are to help the person, and how serious you believe the situation to be.
For example, if someone is drinking and driving on a regular basis, it might make more sense to organize a formal intervention in order to convince them to go to treatment, even if you think there is a risk of the whole thing backfiring and possibly alienating your relationship with the addict (always a possibility).
If you do not judge the person to be “completely out of control,” then it might make more sense to attempt a serious of discussions about possibly seeking help. If you overreact then you run the risk distancing the person from you.
3) You have a friend or a loved one who says they are ready to make a change and that they want help, but they are placing conditions on possible treatment options.
How you can help in this situation: This is denial. If someone says “they want to get clean and sober, but….” then they are not ready yet. They are placing conditions on how they will receive help and this will never work. It is a stage of denial–one where the person will admit to their disease, but they won’t agree to go to any lengths to get help.
In cases like this, I feel like you are wasting your energy when you argue and try to coerce someone into recovery. It is a pointless effort because the person is not ready to change on someone else’s terms. They are only willing to change on their own terms and this means that they are not going to change at all.
The reason for this is because their best ideas got them into trouble with drugs and alcohol. Therefore a true addict or alcoholic cannot find recovery through their own ideas. It is a contradiction to claim that it can be done. An addict is someone who cannot quit the drugs without some form of help. If they could do it on their own then they would not be an addict. Period. So you are wasting your time and energy if you’re trying to convince someone to get help if they are at this stage of denial.
What has to happen is for the person to go try it their own way again, and see that once again it does not work for them. At some point they will become miserable enough and they will finally surrender completely to their disease and they will ask for help and say: “show me how to live. I don’t know how to live life. I am a mess” or something to that effect. That is the level of surrender that is needed. After someone gets to that point, almost anything you do to help them will be more than enough. Something has changed in their heart of hearts and they are ready for real change. Which finally brings us to the last situation you might encounter:
4) You have a friend or a loved one who says they are ready to change and that they will do anything in order to get clean and sober.
How you can help in this situation: Get them to a treatment center or a 12 step meeting. They are ready for change and you couldn’t really screw this up even if you tried. They have surrendered fully and successful recovery–at least in the short term–is inevitable.
It’s possible to offer addiction help but you have to consider what level of denial the addict is in first, or your efforts will be wasted. Notice that in most cases, your best actions are to modify your own behavior to be healthy (meaning that you do not enable them). Make them aware that treatment is available but don’t push it on them; this is wasted effort. Sometimes the best you can do is to help yourself, stop enabling, and live your own life as an example of sobriety.
Meth addiction help
Meth addiction is a special case because there really is no physical detox process other than quitting cold turkey and attempting to readjust to life. Just because there are no serious medical withdrawal symptoms does not mean that it is easy to do, however. Meth addicts can still benefit greatly from going to inpatient rehab and getting counseling and therapy in a controlled environment. Many people who are addicted to meth get help by attending NA meetings and sharing their experience with others.
Quitting meth is just like quitting alcohol or any other drug. The addict must make a decision to change their life, and then they have to take a massive amount of action in order to bring about lasting change. This is no different than overcoming any other chemical addiction, and therefore attending a drug rehab can greatly enhance your chances of success, though it is by no means a surefire cure.
Video game addiction help
There are people out there who do not suffer from chemical dependence, but they may be addicted to video games to a debilitating degree. The question is: “Has it become a real problem?” In some cases the answer is definitely “yes,” especially when it comes to certain online adventure games that require huge time investments in order to make progress. This is definitely the case with World of Warcraft addiction, and there are even treatment centers that have been set up specifically to treat people who are addicted to this specific computer game.
Is this the same as a chemical addiction? Obviously not. But it is in the same ballpark, and many of the consequences can be the same. If someone is making huge sacrifices in their life due to video game addiction, then obviously it has become a major problem. Lost jobs, broken marriages, and lost houses have all resulted due to this type of addiction. It may be somewhat rare but if the problem exists then it needs to be dealt with. Asking for help and admitting to the problem is the first necessary step, and after that is accomplished, counseling may be enough to straighten the problem out. If not, inpatient treatment can be the next step.
Chocolate addiction help
Believe it or not, chocolate actually contains a drug called Theobromine that is chemically similar to caffeine and has similar effects on the body. Of course caffeine can be addictive, so this means that chocolate can be addictive as well. Most people simply believe that they like the taste of chocolate and therefore are “addicted” to the taste, but in fact they may be getting off a bit on this stimulant that is contained in the chocolate as well.
If chocolate addiction is your only problem, then this is not a very serious dependency. Nevertheless, if you are addicted, there are ways that you can try to wean yourself off of the stuff. For example, you may switch over to white chocolate for a while, as that contains less of the chemical stimulant (and more fat!). Or you could just stop eating chocolate cold turkey and probably be just fine with the relatively minuscule withdrawal effects.
Opiate addiction help
Opiates are drugs such as heroin, Vicodin, Morphine, and other prescription painkillers. Being addicted to these can be very difficult when you try to stop using them, because the withdrawal symptoms are incredibly uncomfortable for most people. Therefore, there are a number of ways that you can get help for opiate addiction, including:
1) Detox at drug rehab – there they will give you medication (probably a synthetic opiate) to help control your withdrawal symptoms. You may detox for 3 to 5 days and be completely drug-free when you leave.
2) Ultra rapid detox – this is a procedure where they put you under and then flush your system of drugs. You will be out cold for several hours and when you wake up you will be fully detoxed. Expensive and not yet covered by insurance.
3) Drug maintenance therapy – You take an opiate every day, such as Methadone or Suboxone, in order to avoid other opiate drugs (such as heroin). Can be expensive and arguably not much better than ordinary drug use.
Going to an addiction treatment center is usually one of the best choices for most addicts in most situations. It can be expensive, depending on how you are funded, but it is usually the best choice and produces the best outcomes. There are alternatives to inpatient treatment, such as counseling, group therapy, meetings, or outpatient, but none of these (by themselves) generally can produce the same quality of results as inpatient addiction treatment.
If you do decide to go to rehab, you will get the best experience from it if you are truly open minded about it and fully willing to follow through with any suggestions that they have there. If you are on the defensive, stuck in denial, or generally just resistant to change, then you are not likely to do well in treatment.
Your best bet for getting into rehab is to simply call up local drug rehabs on the phone and ask questions. Find out what it costs, what your options are for payment, if you qualify for special funding, and so on. Many people probably do not realize that they could go to rehab for very cheap or even for free, simply because they never ask. It is worth inquiring about.
Food addiction help
Some people are addicted to eating and they do so to medicate their emotions. This can create all sorts of other problems in their life so it is wise to ask for help and see about getting this type of addiction under control. To do so, it is best to ask for help from those who have had success in fixing the problem themselves. So you should seek out groups such as Overeaters Anonymous or Food Addicts Anonymous. There are some other variations out there but the basic concepts are all pretty much the same. Their goal is almost always to abstain from unhealthy and emotional eating and those programs will help you to further define those boundaries. They all have support groups, sponsorship, and other ways for peers to help each other conquer food addiction.
If you can’t find anything in your area, you could always go online and find support there. Or, start by going to local 12 step meetings such as AA and NA and ask around. Eventually you will find people who can help you. It is a bit more rare but there is support out there for it.
Shopping addiction help
Again, this is a bit more rare than chemical dependency but there are debt anonymous groups out there that can help. I would suggest that you read a book called “Your Money or Your Life” and also start following my buddy Trent over at the Simple Dollar. These 2 actions alone will get you well on your way to fiscal responsibility, especially if you start implementing some of the ideas and concepts you will learn there.
Alcohol addiction help
Alcoholism is a special kind of drug addiction, simply because alcohol is so prevalent in most of the world and is so easy to acquire. But in the end it is still just another drug, and should be treated as such. If you need help for alcohol abuse then really you are using a drug called alcohol and what you really need is drug addiction help. It is not worth getting all caught up in the words and the definitions, so long as you understand that alcohol is just another drug. To dismiss it as something less is a big mistake, one that too many drug addicts and alcoholics typically make.
Now if you need help for drug addiction or for alcoholism, then you should do 2 things as quickly as possible: One is to ask for help, and the other is to take real action. Everything else is a detail. Now don’t get me wrong, the details are important here, but they are sort of meaningless if you allow them to prevent you from getting the ball rolling. In early recovery it is all about action. You have to make a decision and then follow through on that in order to find recovery.
Regardless of your type of addiction, help is available to those who ask for it. While you might spend a lot of money on professional services, you can also walk into a church basement and get some really good help from a group of addicts for absolutely free in some cases. This is how support groups work and have sprang up in order to help each other. The key is to take action and actually do something. Most people are lazy….not just addicts and alcoholics, but everyone. They do not want to put in the work that is necessary to get and stay clean and sober. If you want to change your life then you have to put in the work.
Take action today!