No such thing. By definition, addiction is incurable.
If you could cure it, then the “addiction” would actually be drug abuse….not drug addiction. The two things are very different.
Drug abuse is quite easy to cure. Simply stop abusing drugs, and you’re cured. If that’s not possible, then you might have a condition that is known as addiction. If you simply choose not to stop abusing drugs, then you might be in denial, arguing that you could stop if only you wanted to. This level of denial becomes deeper and deeper in the face of mounting consequences.
In other words, if your life is falling apart and you’re getting into all sorts of trouble because of your drug use—and yet you continue to use drugs–then this is more and more in the realm of drug addiction and less in the realm of drug abuse.
So if there is no cure for addiction, what is the solution? What is the best that we can hope for?
There are 2 distinct possibilities. One is to control the drug use so that it is no longer a problem. The other possibility is to abstain from drugs completely and find a new way to live.
Guess which one works for drug addicts? If you said abstinence, you’re right!
Most struggling addicts have fought for years to try and control their drug use while still enjoying it. For the true addict this proves to be an impossible balance to find. Either they cut back so much that they are miserable, or they use so much that they lose control and face heavy consequences. Most of the time they vacillate between the two extremes in a hopeless and miserable state of mind.
So the cure is abstinence, right? Yes, but obviously the solution is deeper than that. For true addicts, the real problem is only starting when you take away the drugs. Now they have to learn how to live. Then they have to learn how to enjoy their life.
Learning how to live
Recovery is a learning process. When you first get clean and sober it can be difficult to even figure out how to eat breakfast.
But the task at hand is much greater than preparing an omelet. We have to literally relearn how to live and go about our day like a “normal” person. This is a monumental task that might involve things such as:
1) Changing our relationships, and the people we spend time with.
2) Attempting to reconnect spiritually and possibly taking a leap of faith in some way.
3) Utilize new coping skills in the face of daily problems.
4) Relearn how to have fun and relax
And so on. This is one big learning process and it basically never ends. We are constantly learning new things in recovery and if we stop the learning process then we are in danger of relapse.
Thus part of any “addiction cure” must involve continuous learning. Anything less will open up the possibility of relapse.
Beyond learning: pushing for growth
It is one thing to be in a continuous state of learning, but another way to frame it is that we must be in a continuous state of growth. We have to examine our life and our efforts and seek to improve them over time.
In what way should we grow, you ask? What areas of our lives need improvement? The answer is all of them. Addiction affected your life in so many different ways, and on so many different levels, that you would do well to try to improve your life in a holistic manner in order to fully recover. This means seeking out growth in a wide variety of areas, such as:
1) Physically – quit the drugs, the booze, maybe give up smoking some day, eat healthier, start exercising, get a massage, try acupuncture, and so on….
2) Mentally – challenge yourself, go back to school, find a new job, learn a new skill, broaden your horizons and your mind.
3) Emotionally – find a new maturity in life, find the emotional balance you have never had before, learn to share your feelings without covering them up with opinions.
4) Spiritually – explore your spiritual life, reconnect with your one true source, find what works for you and dedicate yourself to that path. Find ways to help others and bring meaning into your life.
And so on. These areas are just the tip of the iceberg; there are many other ways in which to grow as a human being.
The point is that there simply is no addiction “cure,” only a lifetime of continuous learning and micro-improvements. This is the only way to overcome complacency and avoid relapse. You must keep moving forward or you will slide back into active addiction. This is the cure.