I posted about addiction help the other day, but I wanted to take a closer look at some specific strategies that can be used. For example, a struggling addict might want to know what their best course of action would be in getting help for addiction, based on their unique situation (what drugs they are on, what their financial and insurance situation is, etc.). Obviously, different approaches work for different people. Not every addict and alcoholic can find recovery using the same path. So, what are the paths, and how do they differ?
* 12 step recovery
* Drug rehabs
* Counseling and therapy
* The religious route
* Holistic growth and personal development
12 step recovery
There are a lot of advantages to 12 step recovery. The meetings are widespread and essentially free. The amount of support and help that you can get from other people in recovery is highly concentrated in AA and NA. Outside of these fellowships, you have to look a bit harder and a bit longer to find support. In some places you cannot find any sort of help other than 12 step recovery.
This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It is a good thing if 12 step recovery works for you. It is a bad thing if you have tried these programs repeatedly and continue to fail at them. Many, many people fall into the latter category, yet these same people generally insist that “they have failed the program.” It might just be that they need a new approach.
Those who have been through rehab several times know that it is not a magic cure for addiction. If anything, the rate of recovery and success is probably as bad as it ever was, and very little progress has been made over the last decade when it comes to successfully treating addicts and alcoholics.
But it is not all doom and gloom. Many people do find success in recovery by starting their journey at a treatment center. But it is merely a starting point. It cannot “fix you” or even change you much. You have to supply all of that footwork and effort, most of it after you leave rehab.
If you think rehab could be a good solution for you, but it has yet to work out well for you, then consider long term rehab. This is a more powerful approach to recovery but of course it is only effective when the individual is highly motivated to stay clean. Long term treatment has similar failure rates to shorter rehab stays, but the amount of support and help that you can get from long term is obviously a lot higher.
Counseling and therapy
Can you get clean and sober with counseling and therapy alone?
I say no. Others might disagree. But I think it would take a very unique individual who could actually turn their life around and start living in recovery just by going to see a counselor each week. To me this is not enough. I know this because I tried it for a while when I was still drinking and using drugs. Nothing changed.
Now that does not mean that counseling or therapy is useless. I think it can be extremely helpful for long term recovery. Just about any recovering addict can probably benefit from it. But if someone is struggling to get clean and sober, then this is not enough action to help them. Simply seeing a counselor or a therapist is not going to change their life. It is going to take way more effort and action than that up front in order to make a real difference.
In my opinion, you need massive, life-changing action in early recovery, followed up continuous (but slightly less intense action) over time. Your recovery should start out with a bang. What does this mean? It means you need to go all out. It means long term treatment, or it means 3 AA meetings per day, or it means fully immersing yourself in some other recovery solution. As you stay clean and sober for longer, the intensity of your recovery can let up a bit, and you can start to benefit from more casual, laid back recovery strategies–such as seeing a therapist once a week. But early in recovery you need more intensity, in my opinion. Massive action gets results.
The religious route
I cannot speak directly to the effectiveness of using religion in order to overcome addiction and alcoholism, because I clearly did not use this path in my own experience. However, I have witnessed others who have done so, and it seems to be a viable alternative to traditional recovery solutions. Obviously it is not perfect, because I have also seen several people fail who attempted to abandon traditional recovery in favor of religion alone.
What is important about any of these solutions is how they work out for you specifically. Tailor them to your life and to your recovery. If it works for you, great. If not, readjust, and find something that does work. Take suggestions. See what is working for other people and see if you can adapt that to your own life.
Some people align very well with a religious solution to addiction. For them, it might be all they need to stay clean and sober….. a complete and total replacement for 12 step recovery. You might even find other recovering addicts within your religious community. If so then this is great….it can only help. Other people might use religion as a supplement to their recovery. They might use other strategies in combination with their faith. This is fine too. Whatever works for you is great. Go with it.
Holistic growth and personal development
If you have a few months of successful recovery under your belt, then you might want to take a look to the future and figure out how you really want to live.
What do you want your life to become?
How do you want to live?
One way to enjoy a strong recovery and live an awesome life at the same time is to use an holistic approach to recovery that emphasizes personal growth and development. This might include things like:
* Finding unique ways to connect and help others in recovery using your own strengths and talents.
* Pushing yourself to be healthy and to find healthier ways to live. This helps build true self esteem and also helps you to grow as a person when you achieve healthier habits.
* Focusing on learning and applying new knowledge in your life in order to live more effectively.
These are just a handful of broad ideas that only scratch the surface of the full holistic life in recovery. There is a whole world of depth and growth to be achieved if you are willing to push yourself to pursue growth in multiple areas of your life.
Any addiction solution that you pursue is only as good as the results it gives you. If it does not work for you then move on and find other avenues to explore. If you cannot find other strategies then simply look for other people in recovery and model what they are doing and how they are living. My sponsor in NA is a perfect example of this. He is involved in a 12 step program but his approach is actually holistic and well rounded. Thus he has shown me a powerful path through his example. He did not tell me to live holistically, he simple does.
Gambling addiction help
Getting help for gambling addiction is much like other addictions. Abstinence is the usual model, and support groups can offer peer support from others who suffer the same plight. Staying away from environmental cues is a huge part of this recovery. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you will be tempted to gamble, obviously.
GA, or gambling anonymous, also confronts this problem with regular meetings and sponsorship support. Eliminating debt, maintaining abstinence from gambling, and finding regular support and therapy are all a big part of creating a new life without this addiction in it.
Alcohol addiction help
Most people just go to Alcoholics Anonymous when it comes to drug alcohol addiction. But there are other options out there and other strategies to employ. For example:
1) Medications such as Campral and Antabuse.
2) Outpatient services, including group therapy.
3) Holistic living and striving for personal growth.
And so on. Getting help for alcohol addiction does not have to involve a social solution in every case. There are alternatives but the individual has to work hard to make them work in their lives. However, this is true regardless of what recovery path is chosen. Using traditional recovery strategies, you may have to think less, but you still have to put in the same amount of effort. There is no free ride.
Help with addiction
Most treatment centers try their best to give help for addiction in terms of educating the drug addict or alcoholic and explaining to them how to live a clean and sober life. But the real help comes when the addict can be shown directly. For example, most addicts can look back and say that they most helpful part of rehab was the forced exposure to 12 step meetings, because that is what kept them clean and sober after leaving treatment. The lectures and the group therapy may have been helpful, but these did very little to actually prevent relapse when the addict goes back out into the real world.
What is the real world application, what is the driver of success when an addict leaves rehab? How are they going to maintain sobriety each day? This points the way to real help in dealing with overcoming addiction. Lectures about alcohol or various drugs and how they affect the body are almost completely useless at keeping people healthy in recovery.
Heroin addiction help
Heroin addicts have the same struggle as any drug addict or alcoholic in finding recovery, and they also have a strange subculture that surrounds their drug of choice. There are some additional options when it comes to heroin addiction, such as drug therapy and drug maintenance. For example, an addict might choose to take a synthetic opiate every day in order to keep themselves from taking a street drug. Is this the same thing as living in recovery? People argue about it, and some say that it is not. But of course, living in recovery while taking a daily dose of opiates is probably better than being dead or incarcerated.
Many heroin addicts also find recovery without resorting to drug maintenance, and can find a positive life of growth and learning using traditional recovery strategies. For example, there are many heroin addicts who have got clean and sober through the use of NA meetings alone.
Cocaine addiction help
Overcoming cocaine addiction is all about altering your lifestyle. The drug itself poses no real problems from a physical withdrawal standpoint. It is all psychological. The cocaine addict has the unique challenge of having to walk away from a lifestyle that they have become addicted to. It is more about the lifestyle than the drug itself. This can include things that go along with the drug, such as late night parties, friends, lovers, and so on. People who struggle to give up cocaine are actually struggling in terms of moving on from this fast lifestyle. The challenge, therefore, is in creating a new and exciting life for the person who is walking away from this drug. Not an easy task by any means, and one that may require a strong commitment or even a stay in a long term rehab.
Overcoming this type of drug addiction is about living a new lifestyle. Very difficult to change by merely thinking about it and making decisions. Much easier to change when you can actually start living the new lifestyle, as experienced in a long term rehab.
Marijuana addiction help
Again, quitting a specific drug should be no different from the others, but sometimes there are going to be side issues. One such issue with Marijuana is that it becomes a social activity that defines a person’s friendships, making it very difficult to break away from the lifestyle. Most marijuana addicts are younger and deeply involved with smoking the drug with a circle of friends, making it very difficult to break free from this cycle and start living drug free.
The solution, again, is to replace an old lifestyle with a new one. Finding meaning and purpose and new activities is going to be a crucial part of overcoming marijuana addiction, especially for younger people. If a person is not excited about life without drugs then they are going to have to somehow become excited about it, or they will constantly revert back to their drug of choice. Marijuana is seductive because it produces an instant circle of friends for younger people and gives them something to be passionate about. Breaking free from this requires a great deal of energy and commitment, which is going to be rare among a younger population that has not yet experienced enough pain from their drug use.
Shopping addiction help
There may be some support groups out there to help with spending addiction, such as debtor’s anonymous, but these groups will be hard to find in all but the largest of cities. There are really only a couple of principles that can help with this sort of addiction and that is to stop all frivolous spending and increase income-producing activities. There is no way to dress it up any different than this and the bottom line is that you have to cut up the credit cards and quit spending money on anything but the barest necessities.
The hard part is that the spending addict will think that they will be completely miserable if they do this. This is what fuels their addiction and causes them to spend more money, even when they already have stress and anxiety over their existing debt. The thought of not spending money in order to reward themselves is similar to the alcoholic imagining that they can never take a drink again.